Objectives: The potential cardiovascular (CV) toxicity associated with combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) has been attributed mainly to the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors abacavir and didanosine. However, the other two components of cART--non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) and protease inhibitors (PIs)--may also be implicated, either directly or by influencing the action of the other drugs. This study evaluates the acute direct effects of the NNRTIs efavirenz and nevirapine and one of the most widely employed PIs, lopinavir, on leucocyte-endothelium interactions, a hallmark of CV disease.
Methods: Drugs were analysed in vitro in human cells (interactions of peripheral blood polymorphonuclear or mononuclear cells with human umbilical vein endothelial cells) using a flow chamber system, and in vivo in rat mesenteric vessels by means of intravital microscopy. The expression of adhesion molecules in leucocytes and endothelial cells was studied by flow cytometry, and the role of these molecules in white cell recruitment was evaluated by pre-treating human cells or rats with blocking antibodies.
Results: Efavirenz and nevirapine, but not lopinavir, increased the rolling flux and adhesion of leucocytes in vitro and in vivo while inducing emigration in rat venules. Efavirenz, but not nevirapine, augmented the levels of CD11b, CD11c and CD18 in neutrophils and monocytes. The actions of efavirenz, but not of nevirapine, were reversed by antibodies against Mac-1 (CD11b/CD18), gp150,95 (CD11c/CD18) or ICAM-1 (CD54).
Conclusions: NNRTIs, but not PIs, interfere with leucocyte-endothelial interactions. However, differences between efavirenz and nevirapine suggest a specific CV profile for each compound.
Keywords: cardiovascular; leucocyte–endothelium interactions; lopinavir; nevirapine.