Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 27252538
J Virol. 2016 Jul 27;90(16):7303-12.
Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the etiological agent of a slowly progressive neurodegenerative disease, HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). This disease develops upon infiltration of HTLV-1-infected lymphocytes into the central nervous system, mostly the thoracic spinal cord. The central nervous system is normally protected by a physiological structure called the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which consists primarily of a continuous endothelium with tight junctions. In this study, we investigated the role of activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule (ALCAM/CD166), a member of the immunoglobulin superfamily, in the crossing of the BBB by HTLV-1-infected lymphocytes. We demonstrated that ALCAM is overexpressed on the surface of HTLV-1-infected lymphocytes, both in chronically infected cell lines and in primary infected CD4(+) T lymphocytes. ALCAM overexpression results from the activation of the canonical NF-κB pathway by the viral transactivator Tax. In contrast, staining of spinal cord sections of HAM/TSP patients showed that ALCAM expression is not altered on the BBB endothelium in the context of HTLV-1 infection. ALCAM blockade or downregulation of ALCAM levels significantly reduced the migration of HTLV-1-infected lymphocytes across a monolayer of human BBB endothelial cells. This study suggests a potential role for ALCAM in HAM/TSP pathogenesis.