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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A pilot study of low-dose zidovudine in human immunodeficiency virus infection.

BACKGROUND. Zidovudine delays the progression of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection but is associated with hematologic toxicity at high doses. Regimens are needed that preserve or enhance efficacy and reduce toxicity. Acyclovir has been reported to potentiate the effect of zidovudine on HIV in vitro. METHODS. We conducted a Phase II open-label, dose-escalating trial to evaluate the clinical and antiviral effects of zidovudine at low (300 mg daily, 28 subjects), medium (600 mg, 24 subjects), and high (1500 mg, 15 subjects) doses, either with or without acyclovir (4.8 g) by random assignment. The subjects had the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related complex, but not AIDS. All of them had either HIV p24 antigenemia or plasma viremia and CD4-lymphocyte counts of 200 to 500 per cubic millimeter when they began treatment. RESULTS. Performance scores and fatigue improved the most in the low- and medium-dose zidovudine groups (both P less than or equal to 0.025). Those assigned to low-dose zidovudine gained the most weight and had the greatest improvement in the mean CD4-lymphocyte count (from 321 per cubic millimeter at base line to 412 per cubic millimeter after 12 weeks, P = 0.01). The proportion of subjects in whom HIV antigenemia resolved, the decrease in the level of antigenemia, and the reduction in the plasma virus titers were similar at all three doses. Subjects assigned to receive the low or medium dose who subsequently crossed over to the 1500-mg dose (n = 19) did not have an increase in CD4-cell counts or a decline in levels of HIV antigen, but they did have dose-related toxicity. The addition of acyclovir to zidovudine was well tolerated, but it did not enhance any of zidovudine's antiretroviral effects. CONCLUSIONS. In this pilot study a very low dose of zidovudine (300 mg) had clinical and virologic effects similar to those of higher daily doses (600 and 1500 mg). The minimal effective dose of zidovudine for the treatment of HIV infection has yet to be determined, and further studies of very low daily doses are warranted.[1]


  1. A pilot study of low-dose zidovudine in human immunodeficiency virus infection. Collier, A.C., Bozzette, S., Coombs, R.W., Causey, D.M., Schoenfeld, D.A., Spector, S.A., Pettinelli, C.B., Davies, G., Richman, D.D., Leedom, J.M. N. Engl. J. Med. (1990) [Pubmed]
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