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J Investig Med. 2008 Jun;56(5):752-69. doi: 10.1097/JIM.0b013e3181788d15.

The roles of HIV-1 proteins and antiretroviral drug therapy in HIV-1-associated endothelial dysfunction.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary, Department of Medicine, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Emory University/Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Atlanta, GA, USA.


Since the emergence of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1)-infected patients have demonstrated dramatic decreases in viral burden and opportunistic infections, and an overall increase in life expectancy. Despite these positive HAART-associated outcomes, it has become increasingly clear that HIV-1 patients have an enhanced risk of developing cardiovascular disease over time. Clinical studies are instrumental in our understanding of vascular dysfunction in the context of HIV-1 infection. However, most clinical studies often do not distinguish whether HIV-1 proteins, HAART, or a combination of these 2 factors cause cardiovascular complications. This review seeks to address the roles of both HIV-1 proteins and antiretroviral drugs in the development of endothelial dysfunction because endothelial dysfunction is the hallmark initial step of many cardiovascular diseases. We analyze recent in vitro and in vivo studies examining endothelial toxicity in response to HIV-1 proteins or in response to the various classes of antiretroviral drugs. Furthermore, we discuss the multiple mechanisms by which HIV-1 proteins and HAART injure the vascular endothelium in HIV-1 patients. By understanding the molecular mechanisms of HIV-1 protein- and antiretroviral-induced cardiovascular disease, we may ultimately improve the quality of life of HIV-1 patients through better drug design and the discovery of new pharmacological targets.

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