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April 1990

A Patient With Progressive Myelopathy and Antibodies to Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type I and Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 in Serum and Cerebrospinal Fluid

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (Drs Aboulafia, Koga, and Rosenblatt), the Department of Neurology, Reed Neurological Research Center, UCLA School of Medicine (Dr Saxton), and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, UCLA School of Medicine (Dr Diagne).

Arch Neurol. 1990;47(4):477-479. doi:10.1001/archneur.1990.00530040135032

• A 52-year-old human immunodeficiency virus type 1-seropositive bisexual black man was evaluated at UCLA because of the recent onset of progressive lowerextremity weakness. Initial neurologic examination showed that the patient's distal weakness was greater than his proximal weakness, with bilateral foot drop and electrophysiologic evidence of denervation in the distal lower extremities. Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and spinal cord disclosed no abnormalities. Subsequent neurologic evaluation 8 months later showed a myelopathy, with progression of lower-extremity weakness, spasticity, and flexor spasms, and urinary incontinence, as well as the peripheral neuropathy noted previously. A second magnetic resonance imaging scan of the brain showed patchy foci of increased signal intensity in white matter and cortex, with mild generalized cerebral and cerebellar atrophy and no lesions in the spinal cord. Specimens of the patient's serum and cerebrospinal fluid contained antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus type 1. Additionally, specimens of his serum and cerebrospinal fluid were tested for antibody to human T-cell leukemia virus type I by Western blotting and radioimmunoprecipitation, and found to be positive for human T-cell leukemia virus type I gag, env, and tax antibodies. The primary cause of severe myelopathy in this patient may be infection with human T-cell leukemia virus type I rather than with human immunodeficiency virus type 1. Treatment with prednisolone resulted in improvement of the lower-extremity weakness, reduction in flexor spasms, and slower but significant improvement in urinary symptoms. Patients who are infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and have unusual motor findings should be tested for concomitant human T-cell leukemia virus type I infection.

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