Low-dose interferon-alpha treatment for feline immunodeficiency virus infection. Pedretti E, Passeri B, Amadori M, Isola P, Di Pede P, Telera A, Vescovini R, Quintavalla F, Pistello M. Source Department of Animal Welfare and Immunoprophylaxis, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale, via A. Bianchi 9, 25124 Brescia, Italy. Abstract Feline immunodeficiency virus sustains an AIDS-like syndrome in cats, which is considered a relevant model for human AIDS. Under precise enrolment requirements, 30 naturally infected cats showing overt disease were included in a trial of low-dose, oral human interferon-alpha treatment. Twenty-four of them received 10 IU/Kg of human interferon-alpha and 6 placebo only on a daily basis under veterinary supervision. The low-dose human interferon-alpha treatment significantly prolonged the survival of virus-infected cats (p<0.01) and brought to a rapid improvement of disease conditions in the infected hosts. Amelioration of clinical conditions was neither correlated with plasma viremia, nor with proviral load in leukocytes. A good survival of CD4+ T cells and a slow increase of CD8+ T cells were also observed in human interferon-alpha-treated cats. Interestingly, the improvement of the total leukocyte counts showed a much stronger correlation with the recovery from serious opportunistic infections. As shown in other models of low-dose interferon-alpha treatment, there was a rapid regression of overt immunopathological conditions in virus-infected cats. This hints at a major role of interferon-alpha in the control circuits of inflammatory cytokines, which was probably the very foundation of the improved clinical score and survival despite the unabated persistence of virus and virus-infected cells.
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