Tropical spastic paraparesis: Clinical, immunological, and virological studies in two patients from martinique
Two patients from Martinique with tropical spastic paraparesis had antibodies to human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) in serum and spinal fluid but no antibodies to other retroviruses tested. They presented with spastic weakness of both lower extremities, hyperreflexia with upgoing toes, sphincteric dysfunction, and normal sensation. By means of agarose isoelectric focusing and selective immunoblotting we demonstrated an increased intrathecal synthesis of IgG antibodies to HTLV-I in the spinal fluid. Unique oligoclonal bands of IgG antibodies to HTLV-I were present in the cerebrospinal fluid. Using a battery of monoclonal antibodies we also found in these patients an increased number of circulating T cells that expressed activation markers. We conclude that the HTLV-I retrovirus associated with tropical spastic paraparesis has both lymphocytotropic and neurotropic properties.