The Maladaptive Effects of HIV Protease Inhibitors (Lopinavir/Ritonavir) on the Rat Heart

Kathleen M.S.E. Reyskens, Tarryn Lee Fisher, Jonathan C. Schisler, Wendi G. O'Connor, Arlin B. Rogers, Monte S. Willis, Cynthia Planesse, Philippe Rondeau, Emmanuel Bourdon, M. Faadiel Essop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Although antiretroviral treatment decreases HIV-AIDS morbidity/mortality, long-term effects include onset of insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases. Increased oxidative stress and dysregulation of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) are implicated in protease-inhibitor (PI)-mediated cardio-metabolic pathophysiology. We hypothesized that PI treatment (Lopinavir/Ritonavir) elevates myocardial oxidative stress and concomitantly inhibits the UPS, thereby attenuating cardiac function. Lopinavir/Ritonavir was dissolved in 1% ethanol (vehicle) and injected into mini-osmotic pumps that were surgically implanted into Wistar rats for 8 weeks vs. vehicle and sham controls. Subsequently, we evaluated metabolic parameters and heart function (ex vivo Langendorff perfusions) at baseline and following ischemia-reperfusion. PI-treated rats exhibited weight gain, increased serum LDL-cholesterol, higher tissue triglycerides (heart, liver), but no evidence of insulin resistance. It also upregulated hepatic gene expression of acetyl-CoA carboxylase β and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA-reductase, key regulators of fatty acid oxidation and cholesterol synthesis, respectively. PI-treated hearts displayed impaired UPS, increased SOD activity and unaltered superoxide levels, and elevated peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator 1-α (PGC-1α) peptide levels. Perfusion data revealed contractile dysfunction at baseline and following ischemia-reperfusion, while post-ischemic hearts exhibited decreased ATPase specific activity vs. matched controls. Early changes initiated by PI treatment resemble the metabolic syndrome and reflect a pre-atherogenic profile. Moreover, the effects of PIs on cardiac contractile function may in part be triggered by impaired UPS activity together with strain on the mitochondrial energetic system. Our study alerts to cardio-metabolic side effects of PI treatment and raises the question of the most appropriate co-therapies for patients on chronic antiretroviral treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere73347
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 30 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The Maladaptive Effects of HIV Protease Inhibitors (Lopinavir/Ritonavir) on the Rat Heart'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this