Seventy-one sera from Japanese individuals infected with human T cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) were examined for the presence of antibodies to HTLV-III by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and by a strip radioimmunoassay based on the Western blot technique. The sera were from 23 healthy carriers and from 48 patients, including 18 with smoldering adult T cell leukemia (ATL), 13 with chronic ATL, and 17 with acute ATL. All people tested lived in the southwestern part of Japan, a known endemic area for HTLV-I infection. Antibodies against HTLV-I were detected in all sera both by indirect immunofluorescent methods and strip radioimmunoassay using cell lysates. Six sera were reactive in the ELISA assay for HTLV-III. But these sera did not react specifically to HTLV-III-related proteins (p15, p24, gp41) when analyzed by strip radioimmunoassay. Our data suggest that coincidental infection of HTLV-I and HTLV-III is quite rare in Japan.

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