Epidemiological and molecular profile of blood donors infected with HTLV-1/2

by | May 4, 2022

Epidemiological and molecular profile of blood donors infected with HTLV-1/2 in the state of Pará, northern Brazil


Background: The Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) is a retrovirus of the genus Deltaretrovirus, which belongs to the family Retroviridae. The most important types are HTLV-1 and HTLV-2. It is estimated that between five and 10 million individuals are infected with HTLV-1, worldwide. Studies in the state of Pará indicate that it has the third highest prevalence of HTLV infections of any Brazilian state. The present study describes the epidemiological, serological, and molecular profile of blood donors from the state of Pará that were classified as unfit due to infection by HTLV-1 and 2.

Methods: The present study is based on a descriptive, retrospective, and cross-sectional review of the epidemiological, serological, and molecular data on blood donations, between January 2015 and December 2019. The data were obtained from the blood bank system and were digitalized to form a database in the Statistical Package for Social Sciences program, version 20. Descriptive statistics were used to determine the absolute and relative frequencies of the qualitative variables. For the quantitative variables, the mean, standard deviation, and minimum and maximum values were calculated. A p < 0.05 significance level was adopted for all analyses.

Results: A total of 632 samples were analyzed, of which 496 (78%) had no detectable proviral DNA and 136 (22%) had detectable HTLV. The HTLV-1 was detected in most (78%; 106/136) of these samples, while only 30 (22%) were detected for HTLV-2. The HTLV proviral DNA was detected primarily in females (69.1%), with a mean age of 40 years, with the highest frequencies of detection being recorded in single individuals (66.2%), first-time donors (74.3%), and individuals that had graduated high school (44.1%). The molecular confirmation of HTLV showed that three-quarters (78%) of the serologically reactive individuals were negative for either types 1 or 2, so the epidemiological profile of these individuals was significantly different from their detectable profile.

Conclusions: The HTLV is neglected in Brazil; there is thus a clear need for further research in the area of regional hemotherapy and hematology services, in order to contribute to the definition of regional infection profiles, that will be fundamental to the development of effective prophylactic practices for the prevention of the infection and the dissemination of knowledge on the dangers of HTLV in the community.

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