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HAART and heart disease


The use of combinations of antiretroviral drugs including nucleoside analogs, protease inhibitors (PIs) and reverse transcriptase inhibitors - collectively termed highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) - has resulted in a dramatic improvement in health status for a large number of HIV-infected individuals.

Side effects in many users, however, cause non-adherence to treatment regimes and concern over their long-term use in the management of chronic HIV infection. The adverse effects of PIs include abnormalities in lipid metabolism, insulin resistance, and premature atherosclerosis. Whether the latter is caused directly by the drugs or as a consequence of lipid abnormalities and insulin resistance has not been clear- until now.

A report in the February 3 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation shows that HIV protease inhibitors directly promote atherosclerosis in mice. Led by Eric Smart, the researchers from the University of Kentucky Medical School in Lexington also examined the situation in human cells, and found that protease inhibitors induced changes in particular cells (called macrophages) that are like those seen in atherosclerotic lesions.

In an accompanying Commentary article, David Hui, a heart disease specialist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, discusses the implications of these findings. He proposes a mechanism by which these drugs might promote heart disease, and suggests ways to disrupt it.

Eric Smart
University of Kentucky
Department of Physiology
423 Sanders-Brown
800 South Limestone
Lexington, KY 40536
PHONE: 859-323-6412
FAX: 859-323-1070

View the PDF of this article at:


HIV Protease Inhibitors and Atherosclerosis

David Y. Hui
University Of Cincinnati College Of Medicine
Department Of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
231 Albert Sabin Way
Mail Stop 529
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0529
Phone 1: 513-558-9152
Fax 1: 513-558-2141

Brooke Grindlinger | EurekAlert!
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