HTLV-1 infection in solid organ transplant donors and recipients in Spain
de Mendoza C (1,2), Roc L (3), Benito R (4), Reina G (5), Ramos JM (6), Gómez C (7), Aguilera A (8), Rodríguez-Iglesias M (9), García-Costa J (10), Fernández-Alonso M (5), Soriano V (11); Spanish HTLV Network.
HTLV-1 infection is a neglected disease, despite infecting 10-15 million people worldwide and severe illnesses develop in 10% of carriers lifelong. Acknowledging a greater risk for developing HTLV-1 associated illnesses due to immunosuppression, screening is being widely considered in the transplantation setting. Herein, we report the experience with universal HTLV testing of donors and recipients of solid organ transplants in a survey conducted in Spain.
All hospitals belonging to the Spanish HTLV network were invited to participate in the study. Briefly, HTLV antibody screening was performed retrospectively in all specimens collected from solid organ donors and recipients attended since the year 2008.
A total of 5751 individuals were tested for HTLV antibodies at 8 sites. Donors represented 2312 (42.2%), of whom 17 (0.3%) were living kidney donors. The remaining 3439 (59.8%) were recipients. Spaniards represented nearly 80%. Overall, 9 individuals (0.16%) were initially reactive for HTLV antibodies. Six were donors and 3 were recipients. Using confirmatory tests, HTLV-1 could be confirmed in only two donors, one Spaniard and another from Colombia. Both kidneys of the Spaniard were inadvertently transplanted. Subacute myelopathy developed within 1 year in one recipient. The second recipient seroconverted for HTLV-1 but the kidney had to be removed soon due to rejection. Immunosuppression was stopped and 3 years later the patient remains in dialysis but otherwise asymptomatic.
The rate of HTLV-1 is low but not negligible in donors/recipients of solid organ transplants in Spain. Universal HTLV screening should be recommended in all donor and recipients of solid organ transplantation in Spain. Evidence is overwhelming for very high virus transmission and increased risk along with the rapid development of subacute myelopathy.