Human T-lymphotropic virus 1, a member of the Retroviridae
family, causes a neglected, silent, persistent infection affecting circa 5 to 10 million people around the world, with biology, immune pathology, clinical diseases, epidemiology, and laboratory issues still unsolved. Most of the infected subjects are asymptomatic, but severe clinical disorders appear as a neurodegenerative disease (HTLV-1 associated myelopathy—HAM) or a lymphoprolipherative disorder (Adult T Leukemia/Lymphoma—ATLL) and in other target organs of the human body. HTLV-1 infections are frequently asymptomatic, but there is a large spectrum of diseases that have been described along the years. The mechanisms by which the virus interacts with the host, the different modes of response of the host to the infection, and the immunogenic characteristics of the host are some of the interesting and unanswered questions that may direct the outcome of the disease. The most relevant published results dealing with the genetic variations of the host, the immune response to HTLV-1 infection, and the outcome of the infection are presented herein, including Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA), Killer Immunoglobulin-like Receptors (KIR), interleukin 6, 10, 28, Fas and Fas ligand, IFN-gamma, TNF-A, and Mannose-binding lectin. In summary, there are still several unmet research needs in the field of useful biomarkers on HTLV-1 pathogenesis.
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