Lack of HTLV-I Carriers in the Sami, an Ethnic Group Living in the Arctic Area in Norwa


The Sami is an ethnic group with ill-defined genetic origins, living in the northern areas of the Scandinavian ‍Peninsula and Russia. Distinct from other European populations in culture and language, they are generally deemed ‍to be remote from the Caucasian lineage. In order to ascertain whether the Sami are genetically linked to Asiatic ‍Mongoloids, we investigated serological markers of human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) infection. Particle ‍agglutination tests for serum HTLV-I antibody were performed for 400 Sami living in Finnmark, the northernmost ‍county of Norway, and in 380 Caucasians (or Norse) in the same region, using serum samples collected for the ‍purpose of studying cardiovascular disease among Northland people in 1974-75. One sample from a Sami showed a ‍tentatively positive reaction, and 4 sera from Sami and 4 from Norse individuals exhibited non-specific agglutination. ‍However, none of the 9 sera showed a positive result in western blotting for HTLV-I proteins, namely, gp46, p53, ‍p24, and p19. Since HTLV-I is distributed most prevalently among northern and southwestern Japanese in Asia and ‍Andeans in South America, the absence of HTLV-I in the Sami might suggest their genetic remoteness from these ‍ethnic groups.