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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1990;616:328-43.

Initial clinical experience with dideoxynucleosides as single agents and in combination therapy.

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Clinical Oncology Program, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Several dideoxynucleosides, including 3'-azido-2',3'-dideoxythymidine (zidovudine, azidothymidine, AZT), 2',3'-dideoxycytidine (ddC), and 2',3'-dideoxyinosine (ddI), have been shown to be potent inhibitors of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication in human T cells and macrophages. These compounds undergo anabolic phosphorylation within target cells to a 3'-triphosphate moiety; as triphosphates, they act at the level of HIV DNA polymerase (reverse transcriptase). AZT has been shown to reduce the morbidity and mortality of patients with severe HIV infection and to at least temporarily ameliorate certain cases of HIV-induced dementia. In phase 1 studies, ddC and ddI have been shown to induce immunologic and virologic improvements in patients with AIDS or related disorders; phase 2 studies of ddC and ddI are underway. The use of these drugs can be associated with toxicity. AZT can cause bone marrow toxicity or myositis with prolonged use, ddC can cause peripheral neuropathy at high doses, and ddI can cause sporadic pancreatitis and peripheral neuropathy at high doses. For each compound, however, a therapeutic window exists in which an anti-HIV effect can be attained without short-term toxicity in most patients. Dose-intensity appears to be an important determinant of the toxicity of dideoxynucleosides. Studies are underway to explore how the therapeutic profiles of these compounds may be enhanced by attention to scheduling or through the use of combination therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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