Erectile dysfunction (ED) in men with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) infection is largely caused by neurologic issues, according to new research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
HTLV-1 is a virus that infects certain white blood cells called T cells. The virus can lead to leukemia and lymphoma. It also connected to HTLV-1 associated myelopathy (HAM), also called tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP). An estimated 5 to 10 million people are around the globe are infected with HTLV-1. The virus is especially prevalent in southwestern Japan, the Caribbean, Africa, and South and Central America.
Most people infected with HTLV-1 don’t develop HAM/TSP. But they may still have neurologic symptoms, including weakness in the lower extremities, “pins and needles” sensations, and sphincter disorders.
Over half of men with HTLV-1 also have ED. It is thought that the inflammatory response associated with HTLV-1 might be connected to atherosclerosis and, in turn, ED. The current study took a closer look at this link.
Researchers recruited 84 men who were patients at an HTLV-1 clinic in Brazil between January 2013 and June 2015. The men’s average age was 54 years and 51.2% of them had ED, determined from scores on the five-item International Index of Erectile Function.
The men were divided into two groups based on their ED status. The researchers then compared the two groups on the following factors: diabetes, obesity, waist circumference, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, and neurologic symptoms.
The scientists found that an age of over 60 years, diabetes, and neurologic disease were associated with ED. Men with neurologic disease were the most likely to develop ED.
The researchers also determined that neurologic impairment played a stronger role in the development of ED than atherosclerosis risk factors.
“In this study, although we found that age, atherosclerosis, and [diabetes mellitus] could contribute to ED observed in HTLV-1, the main causes of ED in these individuals was neurologic disease,” the authors wrote.
“Moreover, we speculate that ED could be the unique or first manifestation of neurologic disease related to HTLV-1,” they added.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
de Oliveira, Cassius José Vitor MD, et al.
“Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction in Men With HTLV-1”
(Full-text. Published online: August 18, 2017)
National Cancer Institute – Dictionary of Cancer Terms