Treatment of HTLV-III/LAV-infected patients with D-penicillamine

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Arzneimittel-Forschung/Drug Research






13 asymptomatic, HTLV-III/LAV-infected male homosexuals with generalized lymphadenopathy were treated with oral D-penicillamine. All patients had depressed T4/T8 ratios and 12 had impaired T-cell funciton. An escalating dose schedule was employed over 2-6 weeks with doses from 0.5 to 2 g/day. Generalized skin rashes developed in 4 patients which required discontinuation of therapy in one patient. Two patients developed mild transient elevations of hepatocellular enzymes. Reversible decreases in lymph node size, absolute lymphocyte counts, and T-cell lymphoproliferative responses were observed in the majority of patients without change in baseline T4/T8 ratios. All 10 patients treated for at least 2 weeks exhibited evidence for suppression of HTLV-III/LAV replication; complete inhibition of virus expression was seen in 60% of patients treated for 6 weeks. Three of the patients treated for 6 weeks remained culture negative for at least 6 weeks after stopping the drug. D-Penicillamine appears to be an effective drug for suppressing HTLV-III/LAV expression in vivo. Its potential role in the treatment of patients with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and AIDS-related complex (ARC) will require further evaluation.

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