Apoptosis in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected patients undergoing highly active antiretroviral therapy.
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Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is currently the only treatment that effectively reduces the morbidity and mortality of individuals infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 (HIV-1). Standard HAART regimens typically comprise 2 nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and either one non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor or a protease inhibitor. These drugs bind to and inhibit the HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase and Protease enzymes respectively, thereby suppressing viral replication. The nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors promote mitochondrial (mt) dysfunction by strongly inhibiting mt polymerase gamma (Pol-y) and subsequently, mtDNA replication. In contrast, the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, efavirenz (EFV) and nevirapine (NVP) do not inhibit Pol-y although EFV has been shown to induce mt depolarisation ( mlow) in vitro at supra-therapeutic concentrations. However, the capacity of non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor drugs to induce mt toxicity in vivo previously remained undetermined. The objective of this study was to determine the influence of EFV and NVP on peripheral lymphocyte mt transmembrane potential (Avj/m) and apoptosis in HIV-1-infected patients treated with these non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Thirty-two HIV-1-infected patients on HAART between 4 and 24 months (12 on EFV, 20 on NVP) and 16 HAART-naive HIV-1-infected patients were enrolled into this study. All participants were black South African patients. Spontaneous peripheral lymphocyte apoptosis and mlow were measured ex vivo by flow cytometry for all patients. CD4 T-helper apoptosis for the EFV and NVP cohorts was 19.38% ± 2.62% and 23.35% ± 1.51% (mean ± SEM), respectively, whereas total lymphocyte mlow was 27.25% ± 5.05% and 17.04% ± 2.98%, respectively. Both parameters for each cohort were significantly lower (P < 0.05) than that of the HAART-naive patients. The NVP cohort exhibited both a significant time dependent increase in peripheral lymphocyte ö¿mlow (P = 0.038) and correlation between Thelper apoptosis and low (P = 0.0005). These trends were not observed in the EFV cohort. This study provides evidence that both EFV and NVP induce peripheral lymphocyte ö¿ m low in HIV-1-infected patients on non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-based HAART, which in the case of NVP is sufficient to induce the apoptosis cascade.