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Drug Combo Protects Arteries of HIV Patients

Adding an NRTI drug to protease inhibitors reduced unhealthy side effect

FRIDAY, Sept. 8, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- HIV-suppressing protease inhibitor drugs are extending patients' lives but can also speed hardening of the arteries. Now, U.S. researchers say a special drug combination may decrease that side effect.

Researchers at the University of Kentucky found that giving mice HIV drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI), along with a protease inhibitor, prevented the hardening of the arteries that occurs when a protease inhibitor is used alone.

The mice received a common protease inhibitor called ritonavir and one of two NRTIs -- either d4T or didanosine.

The findings were published in the current issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology.

"The combination prevented the negative cardiovascular effect, hardening of the arteries, of the protease inhibitors without reducing the effectiveness of the protease inhibitors on HIV," study senior author Eric J. Smart said in a prepared statement.

"To our knowledge, these are the first data that indicate that nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors can limit the atherogenic (tendency to form lipid deposits in the arteries) effects of ritonavir," he and his colleagues noted.

More information

The New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center has more about HIV/AIDS medications.

SOURCE: American Physiological Society, Sept. 5, 2006
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