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AIDS. 2000 Mar 10;14(4):397-403.

Structured treatment interruption in chronically HIV-1 infected patients after long-term viral suppression.

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1
Retrovirology Laboratory irsiCaixa Foundation, University Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, Barcelona, Spain.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the virological and immunological impact of a structured treatment interruption (STI) in a cohort of HIV-1 chronically infected patients with a further long-lasting effective virus suppression.

METHODS:

Twelve HIV-1 chronically infected adults who had maintained viral suppression (< 20 copies/ml) for more than 2 years, as well as a CD4:CD8 ratio > 1 for a median time of 22 months, were included in the study. Participants interrupted their antiretroviral treatment during a maximum period of 30 days or until a viral load rebound > 3000 copies/ml was detected. The same prior antiretroviral regimen was resumed after STI. Kinetics of plasma viral rebound was evaluated every 2 days during the treatment interruption period. Flow cytometry and cell proliferation assays were performed before and after STI. Genotypic resistance was assessed at the time of treatment resumption.

RESULTS:

No adverse events occurred during the interruption period. In two patients no viral rebound was detected after 30 days of treatment interruption. In the remaining 10 patients, viral load became detectable (> 20 copies/ml) at a median time of 14 days after treatment interruption. Afterwards, viral load increased exponentially with a mean t1/2 of 1.6 days. Treatment was successfully resumed in all patients. No resistance-conferring mutations associated with the pre-interruption antiretroviral regimen were detected. The percentage of CD4 and CD8 lymphocytes did not vary during the STI period; however, the level of expression of T-cell activation antigen CD38 on CD8 T cells increased significantly in response to viral rebound. Four patients gained T-helper cell responses to recall antigens (tuberculin and tetanus toxoid), two of who developed an HIV-specific response to p24.

CONCLUSIONS:

STI in chronically HIV-1-infected patients is not associated with reductions in CD4 T lymphocytes or to clinical complications in this group of patients after 2 years of effective plasma viral suppression. Viral load rebounds in most but not all patients, without evidence of selection of resistance-conferring mutations. Thereafter, viraemia can be effectively controlled by antiretroviral agent reintroduction. HIV-specific T-helper cell responses may be achieved after one cycle of treatment interruption suggesting some degree of immune-stimulation. These data do not discard consecutive cycles of STI as a therapeutic strategy to boost HIV-specific immunity in order to maintain viral replication under effective control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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