Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has improved life expectancy with HIV infection, but long-term toxicities associated with these medications are now a major global disease burden. There is a clear need to develop useful methods for monitoring patients on antiretroviral drugs for early signs of toxicity. Assays with predictive utility allowing therapy to be changed before serious end organ damage occurs would be ideal. Attempts to develop biochemical methods of monitoring ART toxicity have concentrated on the mitochondrial toxicity of nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors and have not generally lead to assays with widespread clinical applications. For example, plasma lactate and peripheral blood measurements of mitochondrial DNA associate with exposure to potentially toxic nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors but have not reliably predicted clinical toxicity. Better assays are needed, including markers of toxicity from additional drug classes. Apoptosis may be a potential marker of ART toxicity. Increased apoptosis has been demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo in association with various antiretroviral drug classes and a range of clinical toxicities. However, quantifying apoptosis on biopsy specimens of tissue (such as adipose tissue) is impractical for patient monitoring. Novel assays have been described that can quantify apoptosis using minute tissue samples and initial results from clinical samples suggest peripheral blood may have utility in predicting ART toxicities. The limitations and potential of such techniques for monitoring patients for drug side effects will be discussed.
- Antiretroviral drugs
- Drug toxicity