Isolation of human T-cell leukemia virus in acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)

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Science  20 May 1983:
Vol. 220, Issue 4599, pp. 865-867
DOI: 10.1126/science.6601823


Several isolates of a human type-C retrovirus belonging to one group, known as human T-cell leukemia virus (HTLV), have previously been obtained from patients with adult T-cell leukemia or lymphoma. The T-cell tropism of HTLV and its prevalence in the Caribbean basin prompted a search for it in patients with the epidemic T-cell immune deficiency disorder known as AIDS. Peripheral blood lymphocytes from one patient in the United States and two in France were cultured with T-cell growth factor (TCGF) an shown to express HTLV antigens. Virus from the U.S. patient was isolated and characterized and shown to be related to HTLV subgroup I. The virus was also transmitted into normal human T cells from umbilical cord blood of a newborn. Whether or not HTLV-I or other retroviruses of this family with T-cell tropism cause AIDS, it is possible that patients from whom the virus can be isolated can also transmit it to others. If the target cell of AIDS is the mature T cell as suspected, the methods used in these studies may prove useful for the long-term growth of these cells and for the identification of antigens specific for the etiological agent of AIDS.