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Early immune response needed for hit-and-hide cancer viruses
Date:1/14/2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio Retroviruses such as HIV and HTLV-1 don't hit-and-run, they hit-and-hide. They slip into host cells and insert their own DNA into the cell's DNA, and from this refuge they establish an infection that lasts a lifetime.

But that infection might be much less troublesome and much more manageable if the immune system could mount a strong response to the virus during its first few days in the body, according to a new study by cancer researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James).

The animal study, published online in the journal Blood, examined the human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), which causes adult T-cell leukemia and several inflammatory diseases in some people.

"Our findings indicate that if the immune system could respond strongly to HTLV-1 and kill infected target cells early, it may inhibit the virus's ability to establish reservoirs of infected cells and make the infection more manageable later," says principal investigator Michael Lairmore, a professor and chair of veterinary biosciences and a cancer researcher at OSUCCC-James.

"This study tells us that the more we know about the earliest events of infection, the more it will help us develop vaccines and might block those events."

Lairmore and his colleagues examined HTLV-I infection in rabbits that were treated with the drug cyclosporin A, which is commonly used to suppress the immune system in people following organ transplantation. The researchers compared animals treated with this drug prior to viral infection with those given the drug one week after infection.

This study builds on earlier work by Lairmore and his colleagues showing that HTLV-I produces proteins that activate infected immune cells and causes them to divide, thereby increasing the number of infected cells in the body. The researchers found th
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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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