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AIDS and HIV Therapy: Interleukin-2 Improves Lymphocyte Function <p></b>
Michael Greer, Senior Medical Writer
December 17, 2001

-- The cytokine interleukin (IL)-2 can restore proper lymphocyte function to HIV patients, researchers say.

"Increased susceptibility to apoptosis and loss of proper cell cycle control can be observed in lymphocytes from HIV infected individuals and may contribute to the lymphocyte dysfunction of AIDS patients," explained Mirko Paiardini and colleagues at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, the Universities of Urbino, Messina, and Ancona in Italy, and the Pasteur Institute in France.

Exogenous IL-2 administration restored normal cell cycle kinetics to lymphocytes, Paiardini and coworkers found.

T cells taken from HIV patients displayed a heightened proportion in advanced phases of the cell cycle, they said. These T cells were more likely to undergo apoptosis.

Treatment with IL-2 produced lymphocyte populations with a more quiescent metabolic profile, study data showed. The lymphocyte apoptosis rate dropped to normal levels after IL-2 administration.

The therapeutic effects of exogenous IL-2 provides further evidence that endogenous IL-2 function is impaired in HIV patients (Exogenous interleukin-2 administration corrects the cell cycle perturbation of lymphocytes from human immunodeficiency virus-infected individuals, J Virol 2001 Nov;75(22):10843-55.

"Overall these results confirm that perturbation of cell cycle control contributes to HIV-related lymphocyte dysfunction," Paiardini and coauthors concluded, "and, by showing that IL-2 administration can revert this perturbation, suggest a new mechanism of action of IL-2 therapy in HIV infected patients."

The corresponding author for this report is Guido Silvestri, Vaccine Research Center and Division of Infectious Diseases, Dept. of Medicine, Emory University, 954 Gatewood Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA. E-mail:

A search at using the search term "AIDS and HIV therapy" yielded 772 articles in 20 specialized reports.

Key points reported in this study include

  • Interleukin (IL)-2 can reduce lymphocyte apoptosis rates in HIV patients

  • High apoptosis rates are the result of a cell population in advanced phases of the cell cycle

  • IL-2 restores normal cell cycle kinetics

This article was prepared by AIDS Weekly editors from staff and other reports.