Abnormally high levels of virus-infected IFN-gamma+ CCR4+ CD4+ CD25+ T cells in a retrovirus-associated neuroinflammatory disorder

PloS One
Yoshihisa YamanoToshihiro Nakajima


Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is a human retrovirus associated with both HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP), which is a chronic neuroinflammatory disease, and adult T-cell leukemia (ATL). The pathogenesis of HAM/TSP is known to be as follows: HTLV-1-infected T cells trigger a hyperimmune response leading to neuroinflammation. However, the HTLV-1-infected T cell subset that plays a major role in the accelerated immune response has not yet been identified. Here, we demonstrate that CD4(+)CD25(+)CCR4(+) T cells are the predominant viral reservoir, and their levels are increased in HAM/TSP patients. While CCR4 is known to be selectively expressed on T helper type 2 (Th2), Th17, and regulatory T (Treg) cells in healthy individuals, we demonstrate that IFN-gamma production is extraordinarily increased and IL-4, IL-10, IL-17, and Foxp3 expression is decreased in the CD4(+)CD25(+)CCR4(+) T cells of HAM/TSP patients as compared to those in healthy individuals, and the alteration in function is specific to this cell subtype. Notably, the frequency of IFN-gamma-producing CD4(+)CD25(+)CCR4(+)Foxp3(-) T cells is dramatically increased in HAM/TSP patients, and this was found to be correlated with...Continue Reading


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