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

Drugs five years later: acyclovir.

In the 5 years since its release for clinical use, acyclovir (9-[2-hydroxyethoxymethyl]guanine) has proved to be a safe and effective agent for therapy of herpes simplex and varicella-zoster infections. The drug's availability in topical, oral, and intravenous preparations has allowed its use in a range of clinical situations. Acyclovir must be phosphorylated by viral thymidine kinase in infected cells, where it then acts to inhibit viral DNA replication specifically. Epstein-Barr virus and human cytomegalovirus infections do not seem to respond to acyclovir therapy, although in-vitro effects on these viruses may be seen. Acyclovir is well absorbed and distributed, with cerebrospinal fluid levels 50% that of plasma. Clearance is almost entirely by the renal route, with a half-life of 20 hours in the anuric patient. Acyclovir has an excellent safety profile, its major adverse effect being transient serum creatinine elevations during high-dose intravenous use. Major uses include treatment of primary and recurrent genital herpes and herpes encephalitis and prophyllaxis and therapy of mucocutaneous herpes and varicella-zoster infections in immunocompromised patients. Resistance to acyclovir in herpes simplex virus is rarely encountered and does not seem to be due to long-term chronic suppressive therapy.[1]


  1. Drugs five years later: acyclovir. Dorsky, D.I., Crumpacker, C.S. Ann. Intern. Med. (1987) [Pubmed]
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