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Lancet. 1999 Jun 5;353(9168):1923-9.

Comparison of subcutaneous and intravenous interleukin-2 in asymptomatic HIV-1 infection: a randomised controlled trial. ANRS 048 study group.

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Unité d'Immunologie clinique, Hôpital Henri Mondor, Creteil, France.



Intermittent interleukin-2 therapy for HIV-1 by continuous intravenous infusion leads to sustained increase of CD4 T cells. This method of administration is, however, inconvenient and has limiting toxic effects. We did a randomised study to compare safety and efficacy of antiviral treatment alone or combined with various interleukin-2 regimens in HIV-1-infected patients.


94 symptom-free patients, naïve to antiretroviral treatment, with CD4-T-cell counts of 250-550 cells/microL at baseline were randomly assigned zidovudine and didanosine alone (n=26) or combined with interleukin-2 administered intravenously (12 million IU/day, n=22) or subcutaneously (3 million IU/m2 twice daily, n=24) for 5 days, or were given polyethylene-glycol-modified (PEG) interleukin-2 (2 million IU/m2 intravenous bolus, n=22) administered every 2 months from week 2 to week 50 (seven cycles). Safety and immunological and virological results were monitored until week 56.


CD4-T-cell count increased to higher than baseline by a mean of 564 cells/microL (subcutaneous group), 676 cells/microL (intravenous group), 105 cells/microL (PEG group), and 55 cells/microL (antiretroviral-therapy group, p=0.0001). 68% and 77% of patients in the subcutaneous and intravenous groups, respectively, achieved an 80% increase of CD4 T cells (p<0.001). In these two groups, 50% of patients restored a CD4/CD8-T-cell ratio of more than 1. The groups did not differ significantly for changes in plasma HIV-1 RNA loads throughout the study. The duration of common side-effects of interleukin-2 was shorter in the subcutaneous group, which enabled outpatient treatment. Naïve and memory CD4 T cells, CD28 expression on CD4 and CD8 T cells, and restoration of in-vitro proliferative response to mitogens and recall antigens increased in the intravenous and subcutaneous groups.


Subcutaneous interleukin-2 is a convenient regimen that, as well as intravenous therapy, improves immunological function in HIV-1-infected patients receiving two nucleosides. Larger studies are needed to show whether immunological improvements translate into clinical benefit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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