Sera of family members of patients from the United States, the Caribbean, and Japan, with human T cell lymphoma-leukemia virus (HTLV) associated T cell malignancies, possess HTLV-specific antibodies directed against internal structural components of HTLV, p24 and p19. The prevalence of antibodies to HTLV is greater in family members than in random healthy donors, which supports the infectious nature of HTLV and its association with particular aggressive T cell malignancies. Expression of HTLV p24 and p19 has also been observed in cultured T cells of some healthy relatives, and intact virus particles have been released from cells of one possibly pre-leukemic family member.

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