The tropism of the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) for the cells of monocyte-macrophage lineage was evaluated by the coculture of blood monocyte-derived macrophages, with irradiated cells of HTLV-1 producing cell lines MT2 or C91/PL. The susceptibility to HTLV-1 was assessed by the detection of viral DNA using the polymerase chain reaction method. HTLV-1 gene expression in the cells was detected using in situ hybridization and by immunofluorescent staining of viral antigen. The presence of type C virus-like particles detected by electron microscopy and the ability to infect normal cord blood lymphocytes demonstrated that the infected macrophages produced infectious virus. These results indicate that human macrophages are susceptible in vitro to productive HTLV-1 infection, and thus might be involved in the pathogenesis of HTLV-1-related diseases.

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