Phosphorylation of nucleoside analog antiretrovirals: a review for clinicians

Pharmacotherapy. 2001 Jan;21(1):11-34. doi: 10.1592/phco.


Nucleoside analogs (zidovudine, didanosine, zalcitabine, stavudine, abacavir, lamivudine) have been administered as antiretroviral agents for more than a decade. They undergo anabolic phosphorylation by intracellular kinases to form triphosphates, which inhibit human immunodeficiency virus replication by competitively inhibiting viral reverse transcriptase. Numerous methods are used to elucidate the intracellular metabolic pathways of these agents. Intracellular and extracellular factors affect intracellular phosphorylation. Lack of standardization and complexity of methods used to study phosphorylation in patients limit interpretation of study results and comparability of findings across studies. However, in vitro and in vivo studies give important insights into mechanisms of action, metabolic feedback mechanisms, antiviral effects, and mechanisms of toxicity, and have influenced dosing regimens of nucleoside analogs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-HIV Agents / metabolism*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / metabolism*
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Phosphorylation
  • Retroviridae / drug effects*


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Antiviral Agents