Human retroviruses have recently been linked with T cell lymphoproliferative disorders and with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome. We investigated the mechanisms for acquired pure red cell aplasia and cutaneous anergy in a patient with the chronic T gamma-lymphoproliferative disease (T gamma-LPD) syndrome. Patient marrow erythroid progenitors (BFU-E) were 17 +/- 9% of control and were selectively increased to 88-102% of control after marrow T cell depletion. Patient Leu 2+ suppressor T cells spontaneously produced high titers of human gamma-interferon and resulted in a concentration-dependent selective inhibition (74-91%) of BFU-E when co-cultured with autologous or allogeneic marrow. Conditioned media (CM) derived from patient Leu 2+ T cells similarly inhibited growth of autologous or allogeneic marrow BFU-E. The inhibitory factor derived from patient CM was acid-labile (pH 2) and sensitive to trypsin; prior treatment of patient T cells with anti-HLA-DR monoclonal antibody plus complement abrogated the suppressive effect of T cell-derived CM. Patient peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were unable to support growth of cultured interleukin 2 (IL 2)-dependent T cells, but responded to exogenous IL 2 in vitro with a 16-21-fold augmentation, relative to control, in mitogen-induced proliferation. Antibodies to HTLV-I core proteins p19 and p24 but not to HTLV-III proteins were detected in patient serum by Western blotting; patient cultured PBMC stained (7-11%) with antibodies to p19 and p24. Patient cultured PBMC demonstrated integrated HTLV-I genomic sequences by the Southern technique and expressed both specific HTLV-I genomic sequences by RNA dot blot plus reverse transcriptase activity. Utilizing a cloned DNA probe for the beta chain of the T cell receptor gene, patient PMBC demonstrated gene rearrangements providing presumptive evidence for clonality. The presence in serum of HTLV-I p19 and p24 antibodies, the expression of p19 and p24 core antigens on patient mononuclear cells, the evidence of HTLV-I proviral integration sequences and the expression of HTLV-I genomic sequences in patient cells, indicates infection with HTLV-I and raises the possibility of an etiologic link between human retrovirus infection and some instances of large granular lymphocytic leukemia (T gamma-LPD).
L J Levitt, G R Reyes, D K Moonka, K Bensch, R A Miller, E G Engleman