J Clin Virol. 2023 Sep 20;168:105598. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2023.105598. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is a blood-borne virus, and mandatory testing of donated blood for HTLV-1 antibodies has been adopted by Japanese Red Cross blood centers since 1986. A confirmatory line immunoassay was initiated in 2019 for individuals who were seroreactive in the screening test. This decreased the incidence of indeterminate individuals, however, donors with indeterminate results are not informed of their HTLV-1 seroreactivity and they can continue to donate blood.
OBJECTIVES: To clarify the characteristics of indeterminate line immunoassay results among Japanese blood donors.
STUDY DESIGN: Of 759,259 blood donors in the Kyushu district of Japan, an area endemic for HTLV-1, 101 cases were classified as indeterminate by line immunoassay testing. We examined these cases using alternative secondary antibodies, anti-human-Ig (IgG/IgM/IgA) and -IgM antibodies, to detect the early phase of HTLV infection.
RESULTS: Using anti-human-Ig and -IgM antibodies, HTLV infection status was confirmed in 37 individuals (HTLV-1-positive, 2; HTLV-positive, 27; HTLV-negative, 8). Among the remaining 64 indeterminate individuals, we identified one HTLV-2-infected 18-year-old female. A previous blood donation from this individual showed a negative anti-HTLV screening test result (signal-to-cutoff ratio = 0.1). Therefore, this case was considered to be an HTLV-2 seroconversion case.
CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that the procedure for diagnosing HTLV infection should be reconsidered and that an accurate detection system for the early phase of HTLV infection is urgently needed for public health in Japan. Moreover, the issue of HTLV-2 infection needs a higher profile in Japan.