HIV-1 protease inhibitor treatment clears human herpesvirus 8

Treatment with HIV-1 protease inhibitors leads to undetectable levels of human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) in the peripheral blood of dually infected patients, UK researchers report. To see if treatment with HIV-1 protease inhibitors affected the ability to detect HHV-8, Dr. C. G. Teo from PHLS Central Public Health Laboratory, in London, and colleagues examined the CD45+ fraction of the peripheral blood of 33 HIV-positive men for the presence of HHV-8 DNA by PCR before and after treatment with protease inhibitors.

As they report in the December issue of the Journal of Medical Virology, treatment increased the CD4+ T-cell count, decreased the HIV plasma load, and decreased the detection rate of HHV-8, while the titres of anti-HHV-8 IgG were unchanged. The changes were all statistically significant except for HIV plasma load, where the changes approached significance. In addition, the changes occurred whether protease inhibitors were introduced at the same time as reverse transcriptase inhibitors or later.

“Treatment with HIV-1 protease inhibitors is therefore associated with the clearance of HHV-8 DNA from peripheral blood of HIV-infected patients,” Dr. Teo and colleagues conclude. “The concomitant decrease in the HIV plasma load and increase in the peripheral CD4+ cell count suggest that an amelioration in the immune defect following reduction in the burden of HIV-1 infection is responsible for the clearance of HHV-8 by protease inhibitors.”

However, they stress that drugs that specifically target HHV-8 replication are still needed, which “may also benefit patients affected by forms of Kaposi’s sarcoma that are not AIDS-related, in particular the aggressive varieties of endemic (African) Kaposi’s sarcoma.” 12.27/00

Ref: J Med Virol 2000; 62:416-420.

Source: Reuters Health

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