White blood cells known as CD4+ T cells are the main target of HIV. The virus hijacks these cells and replicates within them, which ultimately destroys the cell. This depletion of the T cell population represents a major blow to the immune system and puts HIV-infected individuals at increased risk of opportunistic infections. Treatment of HIV-infected individuals with a cocktail of drugs called combination antiretroviral therapy (c-ART) is able to restore the T cell population and help fight HIV infection, however not all patients respond to this therapy. The growth factor interleukin-7 (IL-7) is known to stimulate T cell production and survival, suggesting that IL-7 may help restore the T cell population during HIV infection.
In a new study published in the JCI, Yves Levy and colleagues at the University of Paris undertook a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of repeated IL-7 therapy over a 16-day period in 13 c-ART–treated, HIV-infected patients that possessed low T cell counts despite successful suppression of virus levels with c-ART. In these individuals, IL-7 was well tolerated and boosted the number of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, which were able to mount an immune response against HIV. These effects were observed for 48 weeks. The data suggest that HIV-infected patients may benefit from intermittent therapy with IL-7 in combination with c-ART.
TITLE: Enhanced T cell recovery in HIV-1–infected adults through IL-7 treatment
University of Paris, Creteil, France.
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