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JAMA. 2000 Jul 12;284(2):183-9.

Immunologic and virologic effects of subcutaneous interleukin 2 in combination with antiretroviral therapy: A randomized controlled trial.

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National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1880, USA.



While interleukin 2 (IL-2) is capable of inducing a marked expansion of the CD4 T-lymphocyte pool, limited data exist on whether IL-2 treatment can add significantly to the immunologic and virologic effects of potent antiretroviral therapy (ART).


To determine the rate and magnitude of CD4 cell recovery and viral suppression when using a combination therapy of IL-2 and ART compared with ART alone.


Randomized, controlled multicenter trial conducted from April 1996 through April 1998 at 8 clinical sites in the United States.


Eighty-two adult outpatients who were infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and had baseline CD4 cell counts of 200 x 10(6)/L to 500 x 10(6)/L and baseline RNA levels of fewer than 10,000 copies/mL were randomized; 78 completed the study.


Thirty-nine patients were randomly assigned to receive a combination therapy of subcutaneous IL-2 (administered in 5-day courses every 8 weeks at a starting dosage of 7.5 mIU twice per day) and ART; 43 were to receive ART therapy alone.


Interleukin 2 safety and differential effects on CD4 cell counts, CD4 cell percentages, and plasma HIV RNA levels.


The mean (SD) percentage increase in CD4 cell counts at 1 year for patients who received IL-2 was 112% (113%) compared with 18% (35%) in recipients of ART alone (P<.001). Both groups had mean (SD) increases in CD4 cell percentage: from 20.4% (6.3%) to 32.3% (12.4%) for the combination therapy group compared with 20.4% (5.1%) to 23.0% (7.2%) for recipients of ART alone (P<.001). Using a sensitive viral RNA assay, mean viral load changes were -0.28 and 0.09 log(10) copies for IL-2 recipients and control patients, respectively (P=.03). Twenty (67%) of 30 evaluable patients receiving IL-2 achieved final viral loads of fewer than 50 copies/mL compared with 13 (36%) of 36 control patients (P=.02). Toxic effects were common among patients who received IL-2 and were managed with antipyretics, hydration, rest, and dosage reduction as needed.


Intermittent therapy with IL-2 and ART produced a substantially greater increase in CD4 cells and was associated with a larger decrease in viral load than ART alone. Clinical end-point trials will be necessary to determine whether the enhanced viral suppression and CD4 cell increases associated with IL-2 therapy will translate into improved clinical outcomes. JAMA. 2000;284:183-189

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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