The effect of cytokines and pharmacologic agents on chronic HIV infection

AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1992 Feb;8(2):191-7. doi: 10.1089/aid.1992.8.191.


The ability of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to replicate in CD+ T lymphocytes and mononuclear phagocytes(MP) is strongly influenced by immunoregulatory cytokines. In the T cell system, interleukin-2 (IL-2) provides a mitogenic signal leading to both cell proliferation and virus replication. Among other HIV-inductive cytokines, only tumor necrosis factor-alpha or -beta (TNF-alpha/-beta) have been shown thus far to trigger virus expression both in T cells and MP. The mechanism of action of TNF involves the activation of the cellular transcription factor NF-kB which binds to specific consensus sequences present in the enhancer region of the HIV proviral LTR. In addition, several other cytokines (including colony stimulating factors, IL-1, IL-3, and IL-6) have demonstrated upregulatory effects on HIV production in MP, whereas nonimmune interferons (INF-alpha/-beta) have been shown to suppress HIV replication in T cells and MP by acting at different phases in the virus life cycle. Finally, cytokines such as TGF-beta, IFN-gamma, and IL-4 have demonstrated either upregulatory or suppressive effects on virus expression depending on the experimental conditions. This scenario indicates that HIV expression is under the control of a complex network of immunoregulatory cytokines, in addition to its own endogenous regulatory proteins, suggesting that new pharmacologic strategies may be aimed at either mimicking or interrupting cytokine-dependent virus expression. In this regard, a number of different physiologic and pharmacologic agents capable of interfering with cytokine-mediated events, including glucocorticoids, anti-oxidants, such as N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC), and retinoic acid (RA) have already been shown to profoundly affect HIV replication in vitro.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cytokines / drug effects
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • HIV / drug effects
  • HIV / physiology
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Virus Activation / drug effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Cytokines