Myelosuppression is associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and may also be produced by agents used for the treatment of the disease or the treatment of its complications. Didanosine (ddl; 2′,3′-dideoxyinosine) is a newer purine nucleoside that has recently become available for therapy for HIV infection. The effects of didanosine on peripheral blood counts have been retrospectively evaluated in the first 170 patients treated with this new agent in four phase I trials. Patients treated with didanosine showed statistically significant improvements in hemoglobin levels, white cell counts, and granulocyte and platelet numbers as compared with baseline values. These changes were seen with or without prior therapy with zidovudine, were somewhat more pronounced at higher doses of didanosine, and persisted for up to 1 year. Reported adverse events included peripheral neuropathy, diarrhea, and most notably, pancreatitis. It is concluded that, while some toxic side effects occur, didanosine therapy in HIV infection is associated with an amelioration of HIV-induced myelosuppression.

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