History of the KSHV Inflammatory Cytokine Syndrome (KICS)


Background: – KSHV inflammatory cytokine syndrome (KICS) is a newly recognized disease caused by Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). This virus can cause cancer. People with KICS can have severe symptoms. They include fever, weight loss, and fluid in the legs or abdomen. People with KICS may also be at risk of getting other cancers associated with KSHV. These cancers include Kaposi sarcoma and lymphoma. Because KICS is a newly identified disease, more information is needed on how the disease works and what can be done to treat it. Objectives: – To collect genetic and medical information from people with KSHV inflammatory cytokine syndrome. Eligibility: – Individuals at least 18 years of age who have Kaposi sarcoma herpes virus and symptoms that resemble those caused by KICS. Design: – Participants will have regular study visits. The schedule will be determined by the study researchers. – Participants will provide a complete medical history and have a full physical exam. Blood and urine samples will be collected as well. – People with KICS that requires treatment may get new experimental treatments. These treatments may include antiviral drugs and chemotherapy drugs, depending on the nature of the disease. – Participants will have imaging studies, such as chest x-rays and computed tomography scans, to study the tumors. – Bone marrow and lymph node biopsies may be done to collect tissue samples for study. – Participants who have Kaposi sarcoma will have photographs taken of their lesions.

Full Title of Study: “Natural History Study of the KSHV Inflammatory Cytokine Syndrome (KICS) Incorporating Pilot Evaluation of KSHV Targeted Therapies”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Non-Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Treatment
    • Masking: None (Open Label)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: December 31, 2025

Detailed Description

BACKGROUND: KSHV inflammatory cytokine syndrome (KICS) is a newly recognized syndrome caused by Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). It is characterized by severe inflammatory symptoms including fevers, wasting, cytopenias, hypoalbuminemia, and hyponatremia, associated in some cases with lymphadenopathy or effusions, without pathological evidence of MCD. Patients with KICS exhibit elevated KSHV viral loads and cytokine dysregulation, with elevations of IL-6, IL-10, and a KSHV-encoded IL-6 homolog, viral IL-6. OBJECTIVE: The primary study objective is to enable intensive study and description of the natural history of KICS. ELIGIBILITY: Adults of any HIV status with: – At least two symptoms, laboratory or radiographic abnormalities which are at least possibly attributable to KICS (including fever, fatigue, cachexia, edema, respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms, hematologic cytopenias, hypoalbuminemia, hyponatremia, lymphadenopathy,organomegaly, effusions) – C-reactive protein >3mg/L. – Evidence of KSHV infection or a risk exposure for KSHV infection – No evidence of KSHV-associated multicentric Castleman disease Patients with these characteristics will be further evaluated to identify those whose clinical and laboratory features are consistent with the working KICS working case definition to be followed in the natural history phase of the study. DESIGN: This is a single center natural history cohort with an observation arm and two nested open label pilot treatment arms, and an accrual ceiling of 40 patients to the overall natural history arm. Natural history patients will undergo clinical, laboratory and correlative assessment every 3 months until sustained resolution. Patients with clinical and laboratory manifestations of KICS, elevated inflammatory markers and KSHV viral load will be eligible for therapy with high dose zidovudine/valganciclovir or, if they have intercurrent KS requiring cytotoxic therapy, rituximab/liposomal doxorubicin. Each treatment arm uses a two stage design, with interim analysis at 8 patients in each arm and potential accrual of 14 per arm. Patients on the treatment arm who have not responded to the pilot treatments or for whom such treatment would not be suitable may also be treated with best available therapy.


  • Drug: Zidovudine
    • Zidovudine 600 mg will be administered orally 4 times a day or i.v. at 300 mg every 6 hours for 14 days for cycle 1 and for 7 days (up to additional 7 days if ongoing symptoms) for following cycles.
  • Drug: Liposomal Doxorubicin
    • Liposomal doxorubicin (20 mg/m2) will be administered i.v. over 1 hour at day 1 of each cycle
  • Drug: Valganiclovir
    • Valganciclovir (900mg) will be administered orally twice/day or Ganciclovir (5 mg/kg) will be administered i.v. over 1 hour for 14 days for cycle 1 and for 7 days (up to additional 7 days if ongoing symptoms) for following cycles.
  • Drug: Rituximab
    • Rituximab (375 mg/m2) will be admnistered i.v. at 50 mg/hr up to 100 mg/hr at day 1 of the first cycle and at 100mg/hr up to 400 mg /hr at day 1 of following cycles.
  • Other: Standard Therapies
    • Standard of Care drugs

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • No Intervention: 1
    • Evaluation Phase
  • No Intervention: 2
    • Natural History/Observation Arm
  • Experimental: 3
    • High dose zidovudine + valganciclovir
  • Experimental: 4
    • Rituximab + liposomal doxorubicin
  • Other: 5
    • Standard Therapies

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Natural history of KICS
    • Time Frame: one year
    • Description of the natural history of KICS, including the spectrum of clinical, laboratory and radiographic abnormalities seen in affected patients

Secondary Measures

  • Response to therapy
    • Time Frame: 3 years
    • Clinical response rate with institution of each specific therapy (high dose zidovudine/valganciclovir or rituximab/liposomal doxorubicin

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • Age greater than or equal to18 Years. – Any HIV status. – At least two manifestations drawn from at least two of the categories (clinical symptoms, laboratory abnormalities and radiographic abnormalities), which are at least possibly attributable to KICS and are not readily explicable from known medical conditions in the patient: – Clinical symptoms (each at least grade 1 by CTCAE definitions) – Fever (>38 degrees C), chills or rigors – Fatigue or lethargy – Cachexia or edema – Cough, dyspnea, airway hyperreactivity, or nasal inflammation – Nausea, anorexia, abdominal pain or altered bowel habit – Athralgia or myalgia – Altered mental state – Neuropathy with or without pain – Laboratory abnormalities – Anemia (hemoglobin<12.0g/dL) – Thrombocytopenia (platelets<100,000 cells/microL) – Leukopenia (white cell count<4,000 cells/microL) – Hypoalbuminemia (albumin<3.5g/dL) – Hyponatremia (sodium<135mmol/L) – Coagulopathy (PT or PTT >1.5 times upper limit of normal) – Radiographic Abnormalities – Pathologic lymphadenopathy (at least five discrete nodes each >1cm in their longest dimension) – Splenomegaly (>12 cm in the longest dimension) – Hepatomegaly (>17cm in the longest dimension) – Body cavity effusions not caused by primary effusion lymphoma nor chylous effusions directly related to lymphatic infiltration by KS -. C-reactive protein >3mg/L. – Exposure risk for KSHV infection (including being a first or second generation immigrant from an endemic area, or male-to-male sexual activity) or evidence of KSHV infection demonstrated by one of: – Molecular evidence of KSHV in whole blood, confirmed by testing at Focus Laboratories, CA (HHV-8 Quantitative PCR, Focus Unit Code 45700). – Immunohistochemical evidence of KSHV in tissues (for example by staining for LANA or vIL-6). Confirmed in the Laboratory of Pathology, CCR, NCI. – Presence of KS or PEL (KSHV-associated malignancies), confirmed in the Laboratory of Pathology, CCR, NCI. EXCLUSION CRITERIA:

  • Biopsy proven KSHV-associated MCD, confirmed in the Laboratory of Pathology, CCR, NCI. – Pregnancy – Any abnormality that would be scored as NCI CTC Grade 4 toxicity that is unrelated to HIV, its treatment, or to KICS that would preclude the use of all of the study treatments or the ability to monitor the natural history of KICS untreated. – Any condition or set of circumstances that in the opinion of the investigators would make participation in this study unsafe or otherwise inappropriate for a given individual.

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 18 Years

Maximum Age: N/A

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: No

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • National Cancer Institute (NCI)
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Sponsor
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Robert Yarchoan, M.D., Principal Investigator, National Cancer Institute (NCI)
  • Overall Contact(s)
    • Irene Ekwede, R.N., (240) 760-6126, ekwedeib@mail.nih.gov


Chang Y, Cesarman E, Pessin MS, Lee F, Culpepper J, Knowles DM, Moore PS. Identification of herpesvirus-like DNA sequences in AIDS-associated Kaposi's sarcoma. Science. 1994 Dec 16;266(5192):1865-9.

Moore PS, Gao SJ, Dominguez G, Cesarman E, Lungu O, Knowles DM, Garber R, Pellett PE, McGeoch DJ, Chang Y. Primary characterization of a herpesvirus agent associated with Kaposi's sarcomae. J Virol. 1996 Jan;70(1):549-58. Erratum in: J Virol 1996 Dec;70(12):9083.

Viejo-Borbolla A, Schulz TF. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV8): key aspects of epidemiology and pathogenesis. AIDS Rev. 2003 Oct-Dec;5(4):222-9. Review.

Clinical trials entries are delivered from the US National Institutes of Health and are not reviewed separately by this site. Please see the identifier information above for retrieving further details from the government database.

At TrialBulletin.com, we keep tabs on over 200,000 clinical trials in the US and abroad, using medical data supplied directly by the US National Institutes of Health. Please see the About and Contact page for details.