GM-CSF Shows Benefit for People with Advanced HIV Disease
May 5, 2000
GM-CSF, or granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor, appears to increase CD4 cells in people with advanced HIV disease as demonstrated in a study reported in Reuters Health, April 3, 2000. Macrophages are a type of white blood cell that serve as major "scavengers" of the blood, clearing it of abnormal cells. They also play an important role in processing particles, like viruses, to which the immune system responds and presenting them to the T-cells that help to activate a specific immune response to fight infections. Stimulating production of macrophages in people with advanced HIV disease can help delay onset of opportunistic infections by restoring a specific function of the immune system that may have been lost due to immune suppression caused by HIV infection.
In the study, conducted through the University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 309 people were randomly selected to receive either an inactive substance or the GM-CSF for a period of 24 weeks. All of the participants were on stable antiviral medication with undetectable viral loads, but were defined as having "advanced HIV disease" and had experienced at least one AIDS-defining illness. The results showed that people receiving the GM-CSF were less likely to develop an infection, and onset of an infection was delayed by several weeks. The study specifically pointed out that there was no difference between the two groups in successive occurrences of opportunistic infections or changes in viral load. The study suggests that the addition of GM-CSF to an effective antiviral therapy could delay virologic failure (e.g., increasing viral load) in people with advanced HIV disease. What needs to be studied further is whether this outcome will hold true for people in earlier stages of HIV infection.
This article was provided by Seattle Treatment Education Project. It is a part of the publication STEP Ezine.