Zidovudine and interferon-alpha treatment induces a high response rate and reduces HTLV-1 proviral load and VEGF plasma levels in patients with adult T-cell leukemia from North East Iran

Leuk Lymphoma. 2007 Feb;48(2):330-6. doi: 10.1080/10428190601071717.


Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) associated adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL) is endemic in southern Japan, the Caribbean, intertropical Africa, and Brazil. Recently north east Iran, particularly the region of Mashhad, has been recognized as a new endemic region. ATLL is an aggressive T-cell lymphoproliferative disorder. Patients with ATLL have high plasma levels of VEGF that induce angiogenesis. Prognosis of ATLL remains poor because of immunosuppression and intrinsic resistance to chemotherapy. Important advances in the treatment of ATLL were reported with the combination of zidovudine (AZT) and interferon-alpha. We investigated the effect of AZT/IFN treatment on vascular endothelium growth factor (VEGF) plasma levels and HTLV-I proviral load in ATLL patients from the region of Mashhad. We confirmed that AZT/IFN treatment induces a high response rate and prolonged survival with minimal side effects. We also confirmed that VEGF plasma levels and HTLV-I proviral load are higher in ATLL patients than in asymptomatic carriers. We finally showed that AZT/IFN treatment reduced both HTLV-I proviral load and importantly VEGF plasma levels, suggesting a potential antiangiogenic effect of this therapy. These results provide further evidence for the efficacy and the mechanism of action of AZT/IFN therapy for ATLL in a developing country.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • HTLV-I Infections / drug therapy*
  • HTLV-I Infections / virology
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use*
  • Iran / epidemiology
  • Leukemia-Lymphoma, Adult T-Cell / blood
  • Leukemia-Lymphoma, Adult T-Cell / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia-Lymphoma, Adult T-Cell / virology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proviruses / isolation & purification*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / blood*
  • Viral Load
  • Zidovudine / therapeutic use*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferon-alpha
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Zidovudine