Antitumour effects of antiretroviral therapy

Nat Rev Cancer. 2004 Nov;4(11):861-75. doi: 10.1038/nrc1479.


Infection by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is associated with an increased risk of certain tumours, particularly Kaposi's sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and cervical cancer. However, the incidence of these tumours in HIV-infected patients has decreased significantly since the widespread use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). This effect cannot be solely explained by the ability of these drugs to suppress HIV replication and thereby reconstitute the immune system. Recent studies have shown that inhibitors of the HIV aspartyl protease, which are widely used in HAART, have direct anti-angiogenic and antitumour effects that are unrelated to their antiviral activity. So these drugs might be used to treat cancer in patients who are not infected with HIV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active*
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / virology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Protease Inhibitors / pharmacology


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Protease Inhibitors