Research of human T lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-1)-associated diseases is mostly focused on inflammatory and lymphoproliferative disorders. However, the immunosuppressive consequences of HTLV-1 infection are frequently ignored. In developing countries where exposure to parasitic and other tropical diseases is frequent, the burden of disease is significantly increased by opportunistic infections. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are a CD4 T-cell subset capable of suppressing effector responses. During HTLV-1 infection, CD4+Foxp3+ cells are increased in HTLV-1-associated leukaemia/lymphoma (ATLL) as well as in non-leukaemic presentations. However, controversy exists regarding the actual regulatory function of these cells. In this report, we present two cases of HTLV-1 ATLL complicated by parasitic organisms and we provide a brief review of the literature regarding FoxP3+ regulatory T cells and their role as a possible mechanism for the immunosuppressive manifestations that take place during HTLV-1 infection.
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