Journal of medical virology vol:52 issue:1 pages:1-7
In countries with a low prevalence of human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) infection, indeterminate HTLV serologies are a major problem in blood bank screening because of the uncertainties about infection in these cases. The recent discovery of two new types of simian T-lymphotropic viruses (STLV), which give an HTLV-indeterminate serology, raises the question whether indeterminate serologies in humans may be linked to new types of HTLV. Starting from a Tax sequence alignment of all available primate T-cell lymphotropic virus strains (PTLV), including the two new types STLV-PH969 and STLV-PP1664, we developed generic and type-specific nested polymerase chain reactions (PCRs). The generic PCR proved to be highly sensitive and cross-reactive for all four types of PTLV, while the discriminatory PCRs had a high sensitivity and a specificity of 100%. There was no cross-reactivity with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), ensuring correct interpretation of results from coinfected patients. Among the 77 serologically indeterminate samples tested, 6 were found to be HTLV-1 PCR positive and 1 was HTLV-II PCR positive. Sequencing of one of the HTLV-I PCR positives excluded PCR contamination, and revealed a divergent type of HTLV-I. The majority of the seroindeterminate samples (91%) were however HTLV-PCR negative, and no new types of HTLV were found. This new assay can identify otherwise undetected HTLV-I or HTLV-II infections and is a useful tool of screening for new types of HTLV among seroindeterminate samples.