Antiretroviral treatment repairs immune system against HIV infection
The study, which evaluated the antiretroviral drug treatment called IL-21, showed promising results during the treatment and when it was finished.
There are antiretroviral drugs that can help patients suppress their HIV infections for a number of years. Unfortunately, the inflammatory imbalance further progresses other health problems that afflict people with HIV infections. This new treatment could enhance these results by repairing the patient’s immune system.
The researchers tested the new fusion protein, which is based on IL-21, an immune stimulator. When the protein is used alongside antiretroviral drugs, it could repair various kinds of cells in the intestinal immune system. These cells are believed to be crucial for the integrity of the mucosal system.
"We found IL-21 is effective at reducing residual inflammation and improving the reconstitution of Th17 and Th22 cells, which are critical for intestinal immunity," Mirko Paiardini, senior author and assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine, said.
Until now, IL-21 was never tested in people who have HIV infections. It has been previously tested on people who have kidney and skin cancer.
"This was an important test of the concept that an intervention that reduces immune activation during antiretroviral therapy can also limit viral persistence," Paiardini said. "Our data provide a rationale for additional preclinical studies on IL-21, as part of a novel combination strategy aimed at limiting the size of the latent viral reservoir and contributing to a remission or functional cure."