Anti-HTLV-1 tax antibody and tax-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte are associated with a reduction in HTLV-1 proviral load in asymptomatic carriers



Previous studies have suggested that higher anti-human T-lymphotropic virus 1 (HTLV-1) antibody titer and lower anti-HTLV-1 Tax antibody reactivity are risk factors for adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma. In the present study, we analyzed the relationships between these factors and clarified their significance. Forty-five carriers were examined for anti-HTLV-1 and anti-Tax antibody by ELISA. In addition, 43 of the 45 carriers with HLA-A*0201 and/or A*2402 were examined for frequency of Tax-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) using HTLV-1/HLA tetramers, and 44 were examined for proviral load by real-time PCR. The relationships between these factors were analyzed statistically. The frequencies of Tax11-19 and Tax301-309-specific CTLs were significantly higher in the anti-Tax antibody-positive group as compared with the antibody-negative group (P = 0.002 and 0.033, respectively). Anti-HTLV-1 antibody titer had a positive correlation with proviral load (P = 0.019), whereas anti-Tax antibody did not show a significant correlation. Higher frequencies of both Tax11-19 and Tax301-309-specific CTLs are related to a reduction in proviral load (P = 0.017 and 0.015, respectively). Synergistic interactions of humoral and cellular immunity against Tax protein were demonstrated in HTLV-1 carriers. Tax-specific CTL may reduce HTLV-1 proviral load to prevent asymptomatic carriers from developing adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma. J. Med. Virol. 79:977-986, 2007. © Wiley-Liss, Inc.