We studied subsets of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) from 12 patients with human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) associated myelopathy (HAM). The percent of OKT8+ cells was significantly decreased, and the percentages of OKDR + cells and IL-2R + cells and the ratio of OKT4 + cells to OKT8+ cells were significantly increased compared with either HTLV-I seronegative healthy adults (controls) or HTLV-I seropositive non-HAM subjects (carriers). The subsets of PBL from eight carriers showed no differences from those in controls. The patients with HAM showed significantly higher antibody titers to HTLV-I compared with carriers. These altered PBL subsets and high HTLV-I antibody titers in the patients suggest that immune functions are in an activated state in HAM.
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