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Immunotherapy (Los Angel). 2015 Dec;1(1). pii: 104. Epub 2015 Nov 30.

Can We Repurpose FDA-Approved Alefacept to Diminish the HIV Reservoir?

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Department of Dermatology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


Current anti-retroviral treatment (ART) for HIV is effective in maintaining HIV at undetectable levels. However, cessation of ART results in immediate and brisk rebound of viremia to high levels. This rebound is driven by an HIV reservoir mainly enriched in memory CD4+ T cells. In order to provide any form of functional HIV Cure, elimination of this viral reservoir has become the focus of current HIV cure strategies. Alefacept was initially developed for the treatment of chronic plaque psoriasis. Alefacept is a chimeric fusion protein consisting of the CD2-binding portion of human leukocyte function antigen-3 (LFA3) linked to the Fc region of human IgG1 (LFA3-Fc). Alefacept was designed to inhibit memory T cell activation that contributes to the chronic autoimmune disease psoriasis by blocking the CD2 coreceptor. However, it was found to deplete memory T cells that express high levels of CD2 via NK cell-mediated antibody dependent cell cytotoxicity (ADCC) in vivo. Phase II and phase III clinical trials of alefacept with psoriasis patients demonstrated promising results and an excellent safety profile. Subsequently, alefacept has been successfully repurposed for other memory T cell-mediated autoimmune diseases including skin diseases other than psoriasis, organ transplantation and type I diabetes (T1D). Herein, we review our specific strategy to repurpose the FDA approved biologic alefacept to decrease and hopefully someday eliminate the HIV reservoir, for which CD2hi memory CD4+ T cells are a significant contributor.


ADCC; Alefacept; CD4+ T cells; HIV reservoir; NK cells

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