HTLV-1 Infection Linked to Bronchiectasis in Indigenous Adults in Central Australia

HTLV-1 Infection Linked to Bronchiectasis in Indigenous Adults in Central Australia
Infection with the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) was identified as a risk factor for bronchiectasis, and one previously unknown, among indigenous adults in central Australia, a case-controlled study reports.  In people for whom HTLV-1 was the only identifiable cause of bronchiectasis, a high number of these viruses (the viral load) were linked to the more severe lung disease. The study, “Predictors of non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis in Indigenous adult residents of central Australia: results of a case–control study,'' was published in the journal ERJ Open Research. Indigenous people living in developed countries are disproportionately affected by bronchiectasis compared to each country's general population, the study notes.  Among indigenous groups in Australia, non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis occurs at younger ages, affects males more than females, and overall clinical outcomes are worse than among non-indigenous people. In central Australia, in particular, a study showed that more than 1 in every 100 indigenous adults experience complications due to bronchiectasis, and that 34% of adults in this study died at an average age of 42.5.  The reason for these poor outcomes is not clear, as diseases such as tuberculosis, measles, and pertussis (whooping cough), cystic fibrosis, and immune system deficiencies are uncommon in this region. HTLV-1 is a retrovirus found in over 40% of some central Australian communities. Most people infected with HTLV-1 live without evident symptoms, but up to 10% can develop adult T-cell leukemia and inflammatory disorders affecting the spine, lungs, and eyes.  To determine if HTLV-1 contributes to the high rates of bronchiectasis among indigenous residents of central Australia, a team of resea
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