Oxidative stress and mitochondrial impairment after treatment with anti-HIV drugs: clinical implications

Curr Pharm Des. 2011 Dec 1;17(36):4076-86. doi: 10.2174/138161211798764951.


Thirty years after the discovery of HIV infection, there are numerous antiretroviral drugs that control the disease when administered in a potent combination referred to as Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART). This therapy reduces the viral load and improves immune system reconstitution, leading to a significant reduction of HIV-related morbidity and mortality. However, HAART does not completely eliminate HIV, so treatment must continue throughout the patient's life. Prolonged use of HAART has been related to long-term adverse events that can compromise patient health. These deleterious effects have been reported for the majority of antiretroviral drugs and are the most common causes for therapy discontinuation. In most of these adverse events, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders and metabolic alterations, oxidative stress and mitochondrial impairment play important roles. This review covers the implication of antiretroviral drugs in the overproduction of reactive oxygen species and the reduction of antioxidant defences, and in the consequent mitochondrial dysfunction, focusing on the molecular mechanisms involved and the clinical implications for HIV-infected patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-HIV Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-HIV Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Risk Factors


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species