Chronic inflammation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. It is known that people living which chronic HIV infection also have the hallmarks of chronic inflammation and this is attributed to chronic activation of the immune system by the viral infection. Preliminary data suggests that this is also the case for HTLV-1 infection in Japan. Chronic immune activation due to HTLV-1 infection may therefore drive atherosclerosis among people with HTLV-1; however, there are currently no prognostic markers that could determine risk. Whether more aggressive control of cardiovascular risk factors is warranted for Indigenous adults with HTLV-1 is therefore unclear.
In 2019 The Westmead Institute for Medical Research provided funding for a study to determine whether higher HTLV-1 proviral load (a measure of the proportion of immune cells that contain HTLV-1) or a pro-inflammatory cytokine profile could be used as prognostic factors to predict risk of atherosclerosis in Indigenous adults in central Australia.