Pathogens. 2023 Apr 13;12(4):592. doi: 10.3390/pathogens12040592.
Human T-cell leukemia virus-1 (HTLV-1)-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) is a slowly progressive neurological disease that arises from HTLV-1 infection. Pathologically, the condition is characterized by diffuse myelitis, which is most evident in the thoracic spinal cord. Clinical manifestations of the infectious disease, HAM/TSP, are empirically known to include weakness of the proximal muscles of the lower extremities and atrophy of the paraspinal muscles, which is characteristic of the distribution of disturbed muscles usually seen in muscular diseases, except that the upper extremities are almost normal. This unique clinical presentation is useful information for physicians and physical therapists involved in diagnosing and rehabilitating patients with HAM/TSP, as well as critical information for understanding the pathogenesis of HAM/TSP. However, the precise pattern of muscle involvement in this condition has yet to be reported. The purpose of this study was to identify the muscles affected by HAM/TSP in order to understand the pathogenesis of HAM/TSP as well as to aid in the diagnosis and rehabilitation of HAM/TSP. A retrospective review of medical records was conducted on 101 consecutively admitted patients with HAM/TSP at Kagoshima University Hospital. Among 101 patients with HAM/TSP, all but three had muscle weakness in the lower extremities. Specifically, the hamstrings and iliopsoas muscle were the most frequently affected in over 90% of the patients. Manual muscle testing (MMT) revealed that the iliopsoas was the weakest of the muscles assessed, a consistent feature from the early to advanced stages of the disease. Our findings demonstrate a unique distribution of muscle weakness in HAM/TSP, with the proximal muscles of the lower extremities, particularly the iliopsoas muscle, being the most frequently and severely affected.