Research Article

Viruses, chemotherapy and immunity

M. J. Koziela1 and B. D. Walkera1

a1 Infectioús Disease Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA

An increasing number of antiviral agents are presently in various stages of development and testing, and an increasing number have recently been licensed for use in humans. These drugs have been used extensively to treat viral infections in immunocompromised individuals, and these studies indicate that for many antiviral agents the response to therapy is highly dependent on the integrity of the underlying host immune response. In particular, the response to zidovudine, acyclovir and ganciclovir in persons with HIV-1 infection is highly dependent upon CD4 number, which can be considered a surrogate marker for the state of host immune function in these subjects. Responses to interferons likewise can be shown to depend on the host immune response, with responses due to both direct antiviral effects of this agent as well as immunomodulatory effects mediated through interferon-induced upregulation of HLA molecule expression.