Isolation of a new human herpesvirus producing a lytic infection of helper (CD4) T-lymphocytes in peripheral blood lymphocyte cultures. Another cause of acquired immunodeficiency?
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A new human helper (CD4) T-lymphotropic herpesvirus (HTLHV) was first isolated in February 1985 from the cultured peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) of a patient with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, and subsequently from the PBL of 1 patient with hairy cell leukaemia and 2 patients with lymphoproliferative disease associated with human T-lymphotropic virus type I infection. The viruses could be serially subcultured in umbilical cord PBL cultures in which they infected helper (CD4) T-lymphocytes producing multinucleate giant cells with intranuclear inclusions followed by cell lysis. Electron microscopy of infected cultures revealed that the isolates were herpesviruses. Specific DNA probing showed that the 4 isolates were related to one another but were distinct from cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, Herpes-virus hominis types 1 and 2, and varicella-zoster virus. HTLHV lyses the same target cell as human immunodeficiency virus in PBL cultures suggesting that it may have a similar potential to cause acquired immune deficiency. The development of an unequivocally diagnostic serological test is a priority, so that the epidemiology and pathogenesis of HTLHV infection can be studied.
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