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Lancet. 1982 Feb 20;1(8269):412-6.

Amyl nitrite may alter T lymphocytes in homosexual men.


To evaluate the recent outbreak of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and opportunistic infections in homosexual men, clinical, virological, and immunological data on two homosexual men with KS and on fifteen healthy homosexual volunteers were collected. Both KS patients had regularly used amyl or butyl nitrite (AN); they had low helper/suppressor (H/S) T-lymphocyte ratios before chemotherapy and high titres of antibody against cytomegalovirus (CMV). Eight of the fifteen volunteers were regular AN users; seven of the eight had low H/S ratios due to larger than normal numbers of OKT8-positive suppressor cells and smaller numbers of OKT4-positive helper cells. In all eight AN users the fluorescence profile obtained with monoclonal antibody 9.6 (which detects the sheep E-rosette receptor) was bimodal, indicating a subpopulation of T cells with increased receptor density. A similar pattern was observed when OKT8, the antibody which detects cytotoxic suppressor cells, was used. Two of the seven men who did not use AN had abnormal fluorescence with reagent 9.6, and one of these also had a low H/S ratio. CMV-antibody titres were persistently high in fourteen of the fifteen healthy men, but the titres were not related to AN use of T-cell abnormalities. The data suggest that nitrites may be immunosuppressive in the setting of repeated viral antigenic stimulation and may contribute to the high frequency of DS and opportunistic infections in homosexual men.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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