The prevalence of antibodies to human T lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) was studied in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome. Thirteen of 36 serum samples were positive by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and particle agglutination assay for antibodies to HTLV-I and were confirmed by western blotting. The presence of antibodies to HTLV-I may signify an HTLV-I carrier state. These patients had a high occurrence of extraglandular manifestations such as uveitis, myopathy, and recurrent high fever compared with patients who did not have antibodies to HTLV-I. Patients with antibodies to HTLV-I had an increased spontaneous proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells compared with those without the antibodies. The proportions of activated and memory T cells (HLA-DR+ CD3+, CD25+ CD3+, and CD29+ CD4+ cells) were higher in HTLV-I carriers than in non-carriers. The presence of antibodies to HTLV-I in some patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome suggests that HTLV-I may cause primary Sjögren's syndrome or its extraglandular manifestations, or both.
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