Reactivation of Human Endogenous Retrovirus K (HERV-K), subtype HML-2, has been associated with pathophysiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We aimed to assess the efficacy of antiretroviral therapy in inhibiting HML-2 in patients with ALS and a possible association between the change in HML-2 levels and clinical outcomes. We studied the effect of 24-weeks antiretroviral combination therapy with abacavir, lamivudine, and dolutegravir on HML-2 levels in 29 ALS patients. HML-2 levels decreased progressively over 24 weeks (P = 0.001) and rebounded within a week of stopping medications (P = 0.02). The majority of participants (82%), defined as “responders”, experienced a decrease in HML-2 at week 24 of treatment compared to the pre-treatment levels. Differences in the evolution of some of the clinical outcomes could be seen between responders and non-responders: FVC decreased 23.69% (SE = 11.34) in non-responders and 12.71% (SE = 8.28) in responders. NPI score decreased 91.95% (SE = 6.32) in non-responders and 53.05% (SE = 10.06) in responders (P = 0.01). Thus, participants with a virological response to treatment showed a trend for slower progression of the illness. These findings further support the possible involvement of HML-2 in the clinical course of the disease.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis