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Pharmacol Ther. 2000 Aug-Sep;87(2-3):175-87.

Effect of antimetabolite drugs of nucleotide metabolism on the anti-human immunodeficiency virus activity of nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.

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Rega Institute for Medical Research, K. U. Leuven, Minderbroedersstraat 10, B-3000, Leuven, Belgium.


A number of attempts are currently underway to combine antimetabolite drugs of nucleotide metabolism with a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) targeting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to improve the antiviral efficacy of the NRTIs and to better control HIV drug resistance. Hydroxyurea, a ribonucleotide reductase inhibitor, is currently combined with the NRTI didanosine (2',3'-dideoxyinosine) in clinical trials. However, other cellular target enzymes, including thymidylate synthase, inosinate dehydrogenase, cytidine-5'-triphosphate synthetase, and other enzymes from the de novo nucleotide biosynthesis pathway, can also be considered to potentiate the antiviral action of NRTIs. The underlying reasons for the potentiation of the antiviral activity of the NRTIs by antimetabolite drugs of nucleotide metabolism can be multiple. Decreased endogenous 2'-deoxynucleoside-5'-triphosphate (dNTP) pools result in a better competition of the NRTI (as its triphosphate derivative), with the dNTPs for the virus-encoded reverse transcriptase to be recognized as a substrate for the DNA polymerization reaction and subsequently to be incorporated into the growing viral DNA chain. Also, an increased metabolism (phosphorylation) of the NRTI by stimulatory enzyme feedback mechanisms may result in the production of higher levels of NRTI triphosphate. Thus, higher intracellular ratios of NRTI-triphosphate/dNTP created by well-defined combinations of NRTIs and antimetabolite drugs enable a more profound inhibitory effect of the NRTI against the reverse transcriptase (and thus, against the virus) and a better suppression of resistant (mutant) virus strains. A profound evaluation of this relatively new concept in the clinical setting will reveal whether this approach will establish a place in future treatment modalities of HIV infections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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