Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Apr 9;24(8):6961. doi: 10.3390/ijms24086961.
The perception of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTlV-1) infection as a “silent disease” has recently given way to concern that its presence may be having a variety of effects. HTLV-1 is known to cause adult T-cell leukemia (ATL), an aggressive cancer of peripheral CD4 T cells; however, it is also responsible for HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). Most patients develop ATL as a result of HTLV-1 mother-to-child transmission. The primary route of mother-to-child transmission is through the mother’s milk. In the absence of effective drug therapy, total artificial nutrition such as exclusive formula feeding is a reliable means of preventing mother-to-child transmission after birth, except for a small percentage of prenatal infections. A recent study found that the rate of mother-to-child transmission with short-term breastfeeding (within 90 days) did not exceed that of total artificial nutrition. Because these preventive measures are in exchange for the benefits of breastfeeding, clinical applications of antiretroviral drugs and immunotherapy with vaccines and neutralizing antibodies are urgently needed.