J Sex Med. 2023 Feb 8:qdac050. doi: 10.1093/jsxmed/qdac050. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Virtually all patients with human T-lymphotropic virus 1 (HTLV-1)-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) have some degree of erectile dysfunction (ED), but ED is also found in a large percentage of HTLV-1 carriers.
AIM: To evaluate the evolution of ED in individuals infected with HTLV-1 who were followed for up to 15 years.
METHODS: This prospective cohort study included men infected with HTLV-1 who had ED, were aged 18 to 70 years, and were followed from January 2004 to December 2019. We used the International Index of Erectile Function-5 (IIEF-5), the Expanded Disability Status Scale and Osame Motor Disability Scale, and the Overactive Bladder Symptom Score (OABSS) to define and stratify ED, neurologic disability, and bladder dysfunction, respectively.
OUTCOMES: Time to development of severe ED was the main outcome.
RESULTS: We studied 90 men with ED (mean ± SD age, 52.8 ± 9.78 years). At baseline, 42 were carriers, 16 had probable HAM/TSP, and 32 had definite HAM/TSP. IIEF-5 was highest among carriers and lowest in patients with definite HAM/TSP, whereas OABSS was lowest in carriers and highest in patients with definite HAM/TSP. Median (IQR) follow-up was 8.50 years (3.00-12.00). IIEF-5 fell significantly from baseline to last follow-up among carriers and patients with probable and definite HAM/TSP. There was an inverse correlation between the IIEF-5 and the OABSS at last follow-up (r = -0.62, P < .001). In survival analysis, the time to development of severe ED was significantly shorter in patients with definite HAM/TSP when compared with carriers (P = .001) and those with probable HAM/TSP (P = .014). The presence of definite HAM/TSP at baseline was independently associated with the development of severe ED, after adjustment for baseline age and proviral load (hazard ratio, 6.74; P = .008).
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Formal assessment of erectile function should be part of the routine clinical assessment of individuals infected with HTLV-1; worsening erectile function should alert clinicians to the possibility of neurologic deterioration.
STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS: This is the first prospective cohort study to describe the course of ED in men infected with HTLV-1. The small sample size and absence of seronegative controls are limitations.
CONCLUSION: ED is a slowly progressive clinical manifestation of HTLV-1 infection, and the degree of neurologic compromise at baseline is the main predictor of time to progression to severe ED.