Individuals who are infected with human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) are at an increased risk for developing bronchiectasis. Researchers at Imperial College London urge patients with HTLV-1 to be tested for bronchiectasis and for patients with unexplained bronchiectasis to be tested for HTLV-1.
The researchers were motivated to conduct the study, “High Prevalence of Bronchiectasis is Linked to HTLV-1-associated Inflammatory Disease,” because the number of diseases known to be associated with HTLV-1 is lacking. “The spectrum of disease associated with HTLV-1 has not been completely defined,” wrote Dr. Shohreh Honarbakhsh and Dr. Graham P. Taylor, in the article published in BMC Infectious Diseases. “The association between HTLV-1 and pulmonary conditions is less well documented and clinically recognized.” Dr. Honarbakhsh and Dr. Taylor were especially concerned about the chance that bronchiectasis may be prevalent in individuals with HTLV-1, as previous studies have reported the presence of bronchiectasis in individuals infected with HTLV-1.
To start answering the question of whether pulmonary disease is associated with HTLV-1, the team looked at a cohort of individuals seropositive for HTLV-1. These patients were categorized into HTLV-1 symptomatic patients and HTLV-1 asymptomatic carriers. Out of 167 symptomatic patients and 246 asymptomatic carriers, 64 had been screened for respiratory diseases via computer tomography because they had productive cough with or without a history of recurrent chest infections.
Looking at the results of the scans and tallying the diagnoses, the researchers discovered that only one asymptomatic carrier had bronchiectasis, while 13 symptomatic patients had bronchiectasis. The odds of having bronchiectasis in symptomatic patients was 19.2-times as high. Ethnicity and disease state were able to predict the occurrence of bronchiectasis, with individuals of an ethnicity that was not of African/Afro-Caribbean decent having an increased risk of 3.45-times as high.
“Bronchiectasis was common in the cohort (3.4 %),” wrote the authors. Interestingly, the HTLV-1 viral load was not predictive of bronchiectasis, indicating that the chance for bronchiectasis does not increase with a greater infection with HTLV-1. Regardless, patients with HTLV-1 are advised to be screened for bronchiectasis in order to seek medical attention as soon as possible if they are seropositive for HTLV-1.