Comparison of the Effects of Three Dual-Nucleos(t)ide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor Backbones on Placenta Mitochondria Toxicity and Oxidative Stress Using a Mouse Pregnancy Model

Pharmaceutics. 2022 May 15;14(5):1063. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics14051063.


Nucleos(t)ide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) are the backbone of HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART use in pregnancy has been associated with adverse birth outcomes, in part due to NRTI-induced mitochondrial toxicity. Direct comparison on the effects of commonly used dual-NRTI regimens on placental mitochondria toxicity in pregnancy is lacking. We compared zidovudine/lamivudine, abacavir/lamivudine, and tenofovir/emtricitabine using a mouse model and examined markers of placental mitochondrial function and oxidative stress. Zidovudine/lamivudine and abacavir/lamivudine were associated with lower fetal and placental weights compared to controls, whereas tenofovir/emtricitabine was associated with the least fetal and placental weight reduction, as well as lower resorption rates. Placental mitochondrial DNA content, as well as placental expression of cytochrome c-oxidase subunit-II, DNA polymerase gamma, and citrate synthase, was higher in tenofovir/emtricitabine-treated mice compared to other groups. Zidovudine/lamivudine-treated mice had elevated malondialdehyde levels (oxidative stress marker) compared to other groups and lower mRNA levels of manganese superoxide dismutase and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha in the placenta compared to tenofovir/emtricitabine-treated mice. We observed differences in effects between NRTI regimens on placental mitochondrial function and birth outcomes. Tenofovir/emtricitabine was associated with larger fetuses, increased mtDNA content, and higher expression of mitochondrial-specific antioxidant enzymes and mitochondrial biogenesis enzymes, whereas zidovudine/lamivudine was associated with markers of placental oxidative stress.

Keywords: HIV antiretroviral; abacavir; emtricitabine; lamivudine; mitochondrial toxicity; oxidative stress; placenta; pregnancy outcomes; tenofovir; zidovudine.