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Synthetic peptide-based immunoassays for distinguishing between human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I and type II infections in seropositive individuals.

  • R B Lal
  • W Heneine
  • D L Rudolph
  • W B Present
  • D Hofhienz
  • T M Hartley
  • R F Khabbaz
  • J E Kaplan
Publication Date
Oct 01, 1991
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Until now, serologic tests that distinguish the closely related human T-cell lymphotropic virus types I (HTLV-I) and II (HTLV-II) infections have not been available. Synthetic peptide assays, employing peptides derived from the core and envelope proteins of HTLV-I and HTLV-II (SynthEIA and Select-HTLV tests), were evaluated for the ability to serologically discriminate HTLV-I and HTLV-II infections. Of 32 HTLV-I- and 57 HTLV-II-positive serum specimens from individuals whose infections were confirmed by polymerase chain reaction, the SynthEIA test categorized 29 (91%) as HTLV-I and 50 (88%) as HTLV-II, and 10 (11%) were nontypeable. In contrast, the Select-HTLV test categorized 32 (100%) as HTLV-I and 55 (96%) as HTLV-II, and 2 (2%) were nontypeable. The specificity of both the assays in seropositive serum specimens was 100% in that none of the specimens were incorrectly classified. Additional serum specimens obtained from clinically diseased patients from the United States (n = 8) and asymptomatic carriers and patients from Japan (an endemic population for HTLV-I; n = 40) were categorized as HTLV-I by at least one of the assays, while serum specimens from Guaymi Indians from Panama (an endemic population for HTLV-II; n = 13) were categorized as HTLV-II. Thus, peptide enzyme immunoassays appear to represent a simple technique employing chemically synthesized antigens for discrimination between antibodies of HTLV-I and HTLV-II.


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