Helminthic infection and the risk of neurologic disease progression in HTLV-1

Michael A. Sundberg, Davi Costa, Gloria Orge, Néviton M. Castro, André Muniz, Marshall J. Glesby, Edgar M. Carvalho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Infection with the human T-cell lymphotropic virus, type 1 (HTLV-1) has been associated with an increased Th1 response. Interestingly, a higher prevalence of helminthic coinfection has been observed among infected individuals, and subsequent modulation of the immune response typically associated with helminths may influence clinical outcomes among HTLV-1 coinfected individuals. Objective: This study was conducted to elucidate the association between helminthic coinfection and the development of clinically characterized neurologic disease that occurs in HTLV-1 infection. Study design: In a cohort analysis, incidence of HTLV-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) was recorded. Incidence of clinical outcomes and disease-free survival of several neurologic outcomes associated with HTLV-1 were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method with log-rank tests. The relationships between helminthic infection and risk of HTLV-1 neurologic outcomes were assessed by Cox proportional hazard modeling. Results: Seventy-four coinfected and 79 non-coinfected patients were followed, with 92 helminthic infections observed in the coinfected group. One patient per group developed HAM/TSP and the risk of progression to neurologic disease outcomes did not differ among those with and without helminthic coinfection (p>. 0.45). A significant difference was noted in the prevalence of neurologic disease outcomes among all patients at the conclusion of the study (p<. 0.01). Conclusions: These data suggest that treated helminthic infection does not affect risk of development of neurologic disease in HTLV-1 infection, and reinforce that treatment of helminths does not adversely affect patients with HTLV-1. Importantly, among all patients, an overall progression of neurologic disease was observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-255
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Virology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank all members and patients of the HTLV clinic. This work was supported by the FICRS-F program, the NIH/Fogarty International Center R24 TW007988, NIH/NIAID K24 AI078884, NIH AI079238, and the Stanford MedScholars Program. The contents of this publication are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or any mentioned institutions.


  • HTLV-1
  • Helminths
  • Neurologic disease
  • Survival analysis


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