Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Type I Antibodies in the Serum of Patients With Tropical Spastic Paraparesis in the Seychelles
Tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP), a chronic myelopathy of unknown etiology, was studied in the Seychelles. Human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) and human immunodeficiency virus antibodies were determined using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and confirmed with an indirect fluorescent antibody test in serum samples of 20 patients with TSP and 16 controls. Test results indicated that 17 patients (85%) and two controls (transverse myelopathy and clinically probable multiple sclerosis) were positive for HTLV-I. Serum samples of nine healthy controls and five with other neurologic diseases were negative for HTLV-I. No serum samples were positive for human immunodeficiency virus. Estimated relative risk for TSP in those subjects whose serum is positive for HTLV-I antibodies is 40. This result is highly statistically significant. Although primarily associated with adult T-cell leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, HTLV-I could also be an etiologic agent of TSP.