Absence of evidence of infection with divergent primate T-lymphotropic viruses in United States blood donors who have seroindeterminate HTLV test results

Authors

  • M.P. Busch,

    1. From the Blood Centers of the Pacific; and the University of California, San Francisco, California; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; and Westat, Inc., Rockville, Maryland.
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  • W.M. Switzer,

    1. From the Blood Centers of the Pacific; and the University of California, San Francisco, California; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; and Westat, Inc., Rockville, Maryland.
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  • E.L. Murphy,

    1. From the Blood Centers of the Pacific; and the University of California, San Francisco, California; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; and Westat, Inc., Rockville, Maryland.
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  • R. Thomson,

    1. From the Blood Centers of the Pacific; and the University of California, San Francisco, California; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; and Westat, Inc., Rockville, Maryland.
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  • W. Heneine,

    1. From the Blood Centers of the Pacific; and the University of California, San Francisco, California; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; and Westat, Inc., Rockville, Maryland.
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  • for the Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Study

    1. From the Blood Centers of the Pacific; and the University of California, San Francisco, California; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; and Westat, Inc., Rockville, Maryland.
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  • Supported in part by contracts NO1-HB-97077 (superseded by 47114), -97078, -97079,- 97081, and -97082 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Address reprint requests to: Walid Heneine, PhD, CDC-NCID, Division of AIDS, STD, and TB Laboratory Research, HIV and Retrovirology Branch, 1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop G-19, Atlanta, GA 30333; e-mail: wmh2@cdc.gov.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Recent identification of divergent simian or primate T-lymphotropic viruses (STLVs; PTLVs) in bonobos (formerly called pygmy chimpanzees; Pan paniscus; viruses: STLVpan-p and STLVpp1664) and a baboon (Papio hamadryas; viruses: STLVph969 or PTLV-L) have raised the possibility of human infection with these viruses. Divergent PTLV-infected primate sera show p24 bands on HTLV-I Western blots (WBs). It was investigated whether infection by divergent PTLV-like viruses could explain a subset of United States blood donors who reacted on HTLV-I EIAs and had indeterminate HTLV-I WBs with p24 bands.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Epidemiologic characteristics of 1889 donors with HTLV-I-indeterminate WBs were compared to those of donors with confirmed retrovirus infections (393 with HIV, 201 with HTLV-I, 513 with HTLV-II) and 1.6 million donors with nonreactive screening tests. To directly probe for infection with divergent PTLVs, 2 HTLV-I-indeterminate donors born in Africa and 269 representative non-African-born donors with p24 bands on HTLV-I WBs (previously shown to be negative for HTLV-I and -II DNA by PCR) were selected for PTLV PCR analysis. DNA from peripheral blood MNC samples was tested for a proviral tax sequence by PCR using generic primers that amplify HTLV-I, HTLV-II, and the divergent PTLVs. Amplified tax sequences were detected by Southern blot hybridization to a 32P-labeled generic PTLV probe. PCR-positive samples could then be typed by hybridization with virus-specific internal probes that differentiate HTLV-I, HTLV-II, PTLV-L, and STLVpan-p.

RESULTS: In the epidemiologic analysis, HTLV-indeterminate status was independently associated with age of at least 25 years (OR = 2.19; 95% CI, 1.93-2.49), black (OR = 3.27; 95% CI, 2.90-3.67) or Hispanic (OR = 1.82; 95% CI, 1.52-2.16) race or ethnicity, and donation at one blood center (Baltimore) (OR = 1.30; 95% CI, 1.11-1.53). None of the 271 HTLV-I WB-indeterminate samples tested positive by generic PTLV PCR analysis.

CONCLUSION: Although the epidemiologic data suggest the possibility of undiagnosed HTLV-I, HTLV-II, or a cross-reactive virus such as PTLV among older, black, and Hispanic blood donors, the PCR data do not support the presence of divergent PTLV infection among US blood donors with HTLV-I-indeterminate results.¤

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