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AIDS. 2002 Jul 26;16(11):1479-87.

Effects of interleukin-2 plus highly active antiretroviral therapy on HIV-1 replication and proviral DNA (COSMIC trial).

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Department of Medicine, Eppendorf University, Hamburg, Germany.

Erratum in

  • AIDS 2002 Oct 18;16(15):2103.



The effect of interleukin-2 (IL-2) in combination with antiretroviral therapy on HIV-1 replication and reservoirs was investigated.


In a prospective, open-label trial, 56 asymptomatic HIV-1-infected subjects (CD4 T cell count > 350 x 10(6) cells/l) were randomized to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART: stavudine, lamivudine, nelfinavir, saquinavir) with or without IL-2 (9 megaunits daily for 5 days in 6-weekly intervals for a total of eight cycles). Productive and latent infection were analysed in peripheral blood, and residual virus replication in the lymphoid tissue and in the cerebrospinal fluid. The influence of IL-2 on viral rebound after treatment discontinuation was studied.


Virus replication was detected in 21 of 31 on-treatment lymph nodes despite undetectable plasma viraemia. Viral RNA was found in resting as well as in proliferating cells. RNA-negative patients tended towards more rapid proviral DNA elimination. Supplementary IL-2 led to a greater increase in CD4 T cell counts than HAART alone (P < 0.001), resulting in normalization in approximately 90% of IL-2-treated patients compared with approximately 50% HAART-only subjects. IL-2 had no beneficial effect on virus replication and on proviral DNA in peripheral blood.


Viral persistence during HAART is partly a result of continued low-level replication, calling for more active regimens. IL-2 accelerates the normalization of CD4 T cell counts but does not impact on virus production or latency.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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