Difficulties in the diagnosis of HTLV-2 infection in HIV/AIDS patients from Brazil: comparative performances of serologic and molecular assays, and detection of HTLV-2b subtype

Dificuldades no diagnóstico de infecção por HTLV-2 em pacientes com HIV/Aids do Brasil: análise comparativa de ensaios sorológicos e moleculares e detecção de subtipo HTLV-2b

The current diagnosis of human T-lymphotropic virus type-2 (HTLV-2) infection is based on the search of specific antibodies; nevertheless, several studies conducted in Brazil pointed deficiencies of the commercially available kits in detecting HTLV-2, mostly in HIV/AIDS patients. This study searched for the presence of HTLV-1 and -2 in 758 HIV/AIDS patients from Londrina, Paraná, Brazil. Serum samples were screened for HTLV-1/2 antibodies using two EIA kits (Vironostika and Murex), and confirmed by WB (HTLV Blot 2.4, Genelabs). The results obtained by EIA disclosed 49 (6.5%) reactive sera: 43 positive by both EIA kits, and six with discordant results. WB confirmed HTLV-1 infection in seven samples (0.9%) and HTLV-2 in 21 sera (2.8%). Negative and indeterminate results were detected in four (0.5%) and 16 (2.1%) sera, respectively. Blood from 47 out of 49 HTLV seroreactive patients were collected and analyzed for the presence of env, LTR and tax genomic segments of HTLVs by PCR. PCR confirmed six cases of HTLV-1 and 37 cases of HTLV-2 infection (14 out of 16 that were found to be WB indeterminate). Restriction analysis of the env PCR products of HTLV-2 disclosed 36 isolates of HTLV-2a/c subtype, and one of HTLV-2b subtype. These results emphasize the need of improving serologic tests for detecting truly HTLV-2 infected patients from Brazil, and confirm the presence of HTLV-2b subtype in the South of this country.

Human T-lymphotropic virus type 2 (HTLV-2); HIV/HTLV-2 coinfection; Diagnosis; Serology; PCR; HTLV-2 subtype

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