Skip to main content

First line treatment of acute and chronic ATLL with zidovudine (AZT) and interferon alpha (IFN-α): haematological and molecular responses


Recent data suggest an important role of zidovudine (ZDV) and interferon-α (IFN-α) in improving response rates and survival in acute ATLL. Treatment of chronic ATLL with ZDV/IFN-α alone has recently been associated with 100% survival beyond five years.


Retrospective analysis of patients with acute and chronic ATLL treated with ZDV/IFN-α first line. Response was assessed one month from the start of treatment using total lymphocyte and CD4 count, HTLV-1 proviral load (PVL) and clonal analysis (in house method).


Acute ATLL: response rate 33% (1 CR, 2 PR). Median overall survival (OS) 3 months (range 3-8).

Chronic ATLL: response rate 100% (4 CR, 1 PR). Median OS 20 months (range 9-73). In chronic ATLL these prolonged responses were observed despite lower dose therapy. Two patients, showed 10-fold reductions in PVL which occurred more than 1 year after haematological CR. All patients remain in remission at time of analysis. Clonality studies demonstrated a dominant clone at base line with emergence of a polyclonal pattern after viral load reduction.


The complete response in one patient with acute ATLL supports the recent observation that ZDV/IFN-α is effective as first line treatment in some patients.

The significant reduction in PVL and late emergence of a polyclonal integration pattern suggest benefit from prolonged ZDV/IFN-a therapy in chronic ATLL and the utility of both PVL and clonal analysis as a test of the efficacy of novel treatment regimes.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andrew Hodson.

Rights and permissions

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hodson, A., Demontis, M.A., Gillet, N. et al. First line treatment of acute and chronic ATLL with zidovudine (AZT) and interferon alpha (IFN-α): haematological and molecular responses. Retrovirology 8 (Suppl 1), A53 (2011).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: