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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research

Print version ISSN 0100-879XOn-line version ISSN 1414-431X


ZANINOVIC', V.. Possible etiologies for tropical spastic paraparesis and human T lymphotropic virus I-associated myelopathy. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2004, vol.37, n.1, pp.1-12. ISSN 0100-879X.

The epidemiology of tropical spastic paraparesis/human T lymphotropic virus I (HTLV-I)-associated myelopathy (TSP/HAM) is frequently inconsistent and suggests environmental factors in the etiology of these syndromes. The neuropathology corresponds to a toxometabolic or autoimmune process and possibly not to a viral disease. Some logical hypotheses about the etiology and physiopathology of TSP and HAM are proposed. Glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity, central distal axonopathies, cassava, lathyrism and cycad toxicity may explain most cases of TSP. The damage caused to astrocytes and to the blood-brain barrier by HTLV-I plus xenobiotics may explain most cases of HAM. Analysis of the HTLV-I/xenobiotic ratio clarifies most of the paradoxical epidemiology of TSP and HAM. Modern neurotoxicology, neuroimmunology and molecular biology may explain the neuropathology of TSP and HAM. It is quite possible that there are other xenobiotics implicated in the etiology of some TSP/HAMs. The prevention of these syndromes appears to be possible today.

Keywords : TSP/HAM; Paradoxical epidemiology; Toxic and toxoviral etiologies; HTLV-I; Glutamate; Astrocytes; Cycads; Cassava.

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