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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2007 Dec;60(6):1195-205. Epub 2007 Sep 21.

Overview of boosted protease inhibitors in treatment-experienced HIV-infected patients.

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  • 1Royal Free Centre for HIV Medicine, Royal Free Hospital, London NW3 2QG, UK.


Antiretroviral drug combinations that include two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and a protease inhibitor (PI) can suppress HIV replication to undetectable levels, improving the prognosis of HIV-infected individuals. The aim of therapy is complete virological suppression, with a current goal of <50 copies/mL HIV-1 RNA, in order to minimize the occurrence of drug resistance. Improved understanding of the pharmacology of PIs, primarily the importance of adequate drug exposure, has led to the widespread administration of PIs combined with a low 'boosting' dose of ritonavir. The combination of PIs with ritonavir can improve treatment responses in both treatment-naive and -experienced patients. Boosted PIs are an important therapeutic option for HIV and extensive data exist supporting their use. Use of individual agents should be guided by a resistance test at all stages of treatment from naive through to highly treatment-experienced patients. Currently, seven boosted PIs have both US and European licensing approval: indinavir, saquinavir, lopinavir, fosamprenavir, atazanavir, tipranavir and darunavir (formerly TMC114). The preferred first-line option in the USA is lopinavir. Many of the older PIs are less effective and/or have less favourable tolerability profiles. Emergent PI resistance is a major challenge in treatment, and it can be accelerated by partial suppression of viral load through inappropriate therapy combinations. Using the newer boosted PIs, which have more robust resistance profiles, with an optimized background regimen may increase the likelihood of complete viral suppression. This review discusses the relative strengths and weaknesses of boosted PIs in current practice.

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