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VL, CD4, CD8, and Sutherlandia OPC
happyhealthygal Views: 7,569
Published: 15 years ago
This is a reply to # 1,188,194

VL, CD4, CD8, and Sutherlandia OPC

Hey Lifesabreez!

Nice to have you on the HIV board!

To attempt answer your questions about Sutherlandia OPC herbal cancer cure and HIV disease progression/treatments in general (I’ll apologize in advance if you already knew the generalities, but people sometimes get confused about CD4 + CD8 cells, ratios, percentages, etc., and how the timelines work). Very little is known about Sutherlandia OPC herbal cancer cure (I’ll just abbreviate it OPC) at this point:

“I know everyone's different but is there a point in time when somebody's viral load decreases and CD4/8's increase? Like weeks, months? Many thanks to you and the group!”

Viral Load: There is not any data on whether OPC herbal cancer cure can decrease viral load, so nobody knows. In general, a treatment that is effective in decreasing viral load should decrease it by about .5-1 log in the first week, 1.5-2 logs in the first month (as an easy example, going from a viral load of 100,000 = log 5 to a viral load of 1000 = log 3 in one month), and it should be down to undetectable by 4-6 months (obviously, the lower your starting viral load, the quicker it usually gets to undetectable).

CD8 cells: Again, not a bit of evidence on OPC’s ability to alter CD8 counts. I just wanted to discuss CD8 counts for a second because they’re commonly misunderstood. Until the very late stages of AIDS, most patients with HIV and AIDS actually have HIGH CD8 counts (often very high!) – at the very end, patients will sometimes (but not always) experience a sudden CD8 “die-off” due to the virus binding and making them express a receptor that allows macrophages to induce them to commit suicide (ask if you want the specifics). But the vast majority of HIV patients have tons of CD8 cells. CD8 cells, when they are activated, are known as CTLs (cytotoxic lymphocytes). They are the body’s most important mechanism for keeping HIV in control, so in that sense, “too many” CTLs are not a “bad thing”. However, the high numbers are not necessarily a sign that your body is doing a GOOD job, either. The numbers alone may not mean much, because HIV-specific CD8 cells are often not very functional at their job (which is to kill infected cell and prevent the virus from spreading). If your CD8 cells are high during the course of HIV infection, a treatment that is working usually brings them LOWER, not higher, because the virus is being kept under control and your body is no longer trying to make massive amounts of CD8 cells in an effort to keep the virus under control (an effort that doesn’t usually work, although it helps). It is a bit of a misconception that people with HIV want more “immune boosting” to fight off the virus – immune activation is actually a huge part of the problem. Certain kinds of immune responses are helpful (e.g. functional HIV-specific CTLs with adequate Th1 support), but immune activation in general is probably more harmful than anything else.

On the other hand, the CD4:CD8 ratio is usually low during HIV/AIDS (because CD4 counts are low, CD8 counts are high, so the ratio is itself is low); bringing CD4 counts up and CD8 counts down brings this closer to ‘normal’.

CD4 cells: This is the only data we have on OPC (besides liver function tests measuring transaminases. Not sure why, if you were only going to pay for three lab tests, 2 of them would be LFTs, when there were so many more useful and potentially interesting choices!). The data showed CD4 increases up to 60 days. There is no data beyond that. We have no idea whether the CD4 increases last, whether they are beneficial (or even harmful), or where they come from (e.g. increased production of naive CD4 cells in the bone marrow? decreased CD4 turnover/destruction? reactivation of memory cell pools? redistribution from lymphoid tissue or other organs to the peripheral blood?). I will note, for the zillion-and-a-half time, that it is really not very difficult to coax the body into increasing the number of CD4 cells (there are dozens of cytokines – the “hormones” of the immune system – that can do this, and many have been tested in this capacity). The question is really, “is this helpful or harmful in the context of HIV?” A lot depends on context, but it seems that it often is not terribly helpful, and it can indeed be harmful to increase CD4 counts alone. If the CD4 cells are not functional (which is often the case when you’re artificially increasing production), it’s just a cosmetic difference without much real-world value. But it can be harmful: CD4 cells are essential to immune function, but they also happen to be the cells that HIV infects (hence the success of this pathogen and challenge of fighting against it!). It infects ACTIVATED CD4 cells, so if the virus is not successfully suppressed, and you are simply creating a bunch of new CD4 cells, this is equivalent to “feeding wood to the fire”. I’m not saying that such strategies are impossible, only that they must be approached with extreme caution, particularly if the viral load is high.

It is really impossible for anyone to say how OPC works, or whether its benefits outweigh its potential risks, because nobody knows how it works! There is very little data available on it. There is a pharmaceutical company marketing its use, and clearly making money off of it. In my opinion, they have a moral responsibility to tell us more about it (rather than simply make promises that currently lack a solid foundation). I would like for it to work. Right now, it’s impossible to say whether it does, because those who are marketing it have refused to do the research.

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