Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 1733639
Clin Exp Immunol 1992 Jan; 87(1): 7-14
Zidovudine or 3′-azido-2′-3′-dideoxy-thymidine (AZT) is an antiviral drug widely used to treat HIV-infected patients. Because cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) are thought to contribute actively to resistance against HIV-induced disease, we studied sequentially 10 HIV-infected individuals under zidovudine treatment for a period of 6-12 months. For a given patient all lymphocyte suspensions corresponding to the complete zidovudine therapy period were tested on the same day and on the same target cells. Patients were selected for expression of HLA-A2 and/or HLA-A3 class I transplantation antigen. HLA-restricted cytotoxicity specific for env, gag and nef HIV proteins was quantified for each patient at 6 week intervals. The data clearly indicated that zidovudine has a beneficial effect on the CTL response during the first 6-12 weeks of treatment, inducing cytotoxicity levels up to 100-fold stronger than base line. This effect was usually short lived. However, patients who maintained strong levels of cytotoxicity had better clinical and survival outlook than patients who had lost all detectable cytotoxic lymphocytes. It is proposed that AZT, among other effects, delays the onset of disease in HIV-infected patients by contributing to the stimulation of the HIV-specific CTL response.