A study on the nature of CD4 cell increases and proliferation following IL-2 treatment suggests immune-boosting benefits:
The administration of intermittent cycles of IL-2 to HIV-infected patients can lead to profound increases (often greater than 100%) in CD4 cell number and percentage. Using in vivo labeling with 2H-glucose and BrdU, we have been able to demonstrate that, although therapy with IL-2 leads to high levels of proliferation of CD4 as well as CD8 lymphocytes, it is a remarkable preferential increase in survival of CD4 cells (with half-lives that can exceed 3 years) that is critical to the sustained expansion of these cells. This increased survival was time-dependent: the median half-life, as determined by semiempirical modeling, of labeled CD4 cells in 6 patients increased from 1.7 weeks following an early IL-2 cycle to 28.7 weeks following a later cycle, while CD8 cells showed no change in the median half-life. Examination of lymphocyte subsets demonstrated that phenotypically naive (CD27+CD45RO–) as well as central memory (CD27+CD45RO+) CD4 cells were preferentially expanded, suggesting that IL-2 can help maintain cells important for host defense against new antigens as well as for long-term memory to opportunistic pathogens.