Viruses. 2022 Jul 1;14(7):1460. doi: 10.3390/v14071460.
Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the causative agent of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). The effects of HTLV-1 on health are not fully elucidated. Epidemiological studies have shown that the prevalence of HTLV-1 infection is high in patients with rheumatic diseases. The prevalence of comorbidities, such as Sjögren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is higher in patients with HAM/TSP than the in general population. Studies have shown the effects of HTLV-1-infection on the clinical course of RA. Major questions on the association between HTLV-1 infection and RA: (1) Is it possible that HTLV-1 infection causes RA? (2) Do patients with RA who are infected with HTLV-1 have different clinical features? (3) Are immunosuppressants associated with an increased prevalence of HAM/TSP or ATL in RA patients with HTLV-1 infection? Is ATL an immunosuppressive therapy-associated lymphoproliferative disorder? No large-scale studies have investigated the incidence of ATL in patients with RA. However, several studies have reported the development of ATL in patients with RA who have HTLV-1 infection. This review aimed to shed light on the association between HTLV-1 infection and RA and summarize the unmet medical needs of RA patients with HTLV-1 infection.