Post-transfusional human retrovirus infection in 41 Italian β-thalassemic patients

A. M. Agliano, A. Vania, O. Gandini, A. Gradilone, M. Napolitano, L. Albonici, P. Falconieri, G. Digilio, V. Manzari, L. Frati, C. Imperato

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Background. Previous studies have demonstrated that HTLV-I is present in Italy both in endemic form in Southern Apulia and in epidemic form among the population of intravenous drug addicts. In the present paper we intend to evaluate the risk for transfusional HTLV-I transmission in our country, as well as the already known risk for HIV1. Methods. A population of 41 polytransfused Italian β-thalassemic patients was examined by serological methods and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) for human retrovirus infection. Genomic DNA from PBMCs was analyzed by PCR with primer pairs specific for the HTLV-I gag, pol and env regions, and the HTLV-II env region. Results. Two patients were found to be weakly seroreactive to p19 and p24 HTLV-I/HTLV-II proteins by Western blot. The analysis of genomic DNA from PBMCs by PCR revealed sequence homology to HTLV-I only in these two patients. On the contrary, PCR with primer pairs specific for HTLV-II showed no β-thalassemic patient was infected by this retrovirus. Surprisingly, Western blot analysis for detecting anti-HIV1 antibodies in these polytransfused subjects showed a seropositivity in two patients (not the same found to be infected with HTLV-I) in spite of a screening for HIV1 antibodies in the blood bank. Conclusions. These findings suggest that in Italy polytransfused people should still be considered at risk for HIV1 as well as HTLV-I infection, even if the incidence cannot be evaluated from such a small sample. The authors stress the importance of a through medical history of potential blood donors to eliminate possibly infected subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-59
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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