PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2023 Sep 28;17(9):e0011005. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0011005. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: Familial clustering of HTLV-1 and related diseases has been reported in Brazil. However, intrafamilial transmission of HTLV-1 based on molecular analysis has been studied only in a few communities of Japanese immigrants and African-Brazilians.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the familial clustering of HTLV-1 infection and to determine the likely routes of transmission through epidemiological and genetic analyzes.
METHODS: Medical records of 1,759 HTLV-1+ patients from de the Center for HTLV in Salvador, Brazil, were evaluated to identify first-degree relatives previously tested for HTLV-1. Familial clustering was assumed if more than one member of the same family was HTLV-1+. LTR regions of HTLV-1 sequences were analyzed for the presence of intrafamilial polymorphisms. Family pedigrees were constructed and analyzed to infer the likely transmission routes of HTLV-1.
RESULTS: In 154 patients at least one other family member had tested positive for HTLV-1 (a total of 182 first-degree relatives). Of the 91 couples (182 individuals), 51.6% were breastfed, and 67.4% reported never using a condom. Of the 42 mother-child pairs, 23.8% had a child aged 13 years or younger; all mothers reported breastfeeding their babies. Pedigrees of families with 4 or more members suggests that vertical transmission is a likely mode of transmission in three families. Three families may have had both vertical and sexual transmission routes for HTLV-1. The genetic signatures of the LTR region of 8 families revealed 3 families with evidence of vertical transmission, another 3 families (spouses) with sexual transmission, and one family with both transmission routes. HTLV-1 sequences belonged to Cosmopolitan subtype HTLV-1a Transcontinental subgroup A.
CONCLUSION: Sexual and vertical transmission routes contribute to the intrafamilial spread of HTLV-1 in the state of Bahia.