To determine the minimum volume of blood required to transmit human T- cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I), heparinized blood was collected from a virus-infected female rabbit and aliquots of 10, 5, 1, 0.5, 0.1, and 0.01 mL were transfused into groups of two male rabbits each. All 10 rabbits transfused with 10 to 0.1 mL and 1 of 2 rabbits transfused with 0.01 mL seroconverted for HTLV-I after 2 to 4 weeks. HTLV-I- producing lymphoid cell lines of recipient origin were established from one seroconverted rabbit of each aliquot group. To determine the ability of passive immunization to protect against HTLV-I infection, two groups of three rabbits were first transfused with 5 mL of blood from the same virus-infected rabbit and then infused after 24 or 48 hours with 10 mL of HTLV-I immune globulin (77 mg/mL of IgG) prepared from seropositive healthy persons. None of the 24-hour immunization group seroconverted for HTLV-I during the observation period of six months; however, all of the 48-hour immunization group became seropositive after 2 to 4 weeks. These results indicate that HTLV-I can be transmitted with as little as 0.01 mL of virus-infected blood, and that passive immunization is effective in preventing cell-to-cell infection of HTLV-I when given within 24 hours of transfusion of virus- infected blood.

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