Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 protease inhibitors block toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2)- and TLR4-induced NF-κB activation

Ozlem Equils, Alan Shapiro, Zeynep Madak, Chunren Liu, Daning Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coinfections with opportunistic and pathogenic bacteria induce human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication through microbial antigen activation of NF-κB. Here, we assessed whether HIV type 1 protease inhibitors (PI) block microbial antigen activation of NF-κB. Human microvessel endothelial cells were transiently transfected with either endothelial cell-leukocyte adhesion molecule NF-κB luciferase or interleukin 6 (IL-6) promoter luciferase constructs by using FuGENE 6, and they were treated with PI (nelfinavir, ritonavir, or saquinavir) prior to stimulation with the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and TLR2 ligands, with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), soluble Mycobacterium tuberculosis factor, or Staphylococcus epidermidis phenol-soluble modulin, respectively, or with tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). Luciferase activity was measured by using a Promega luciferase kit. TNF-α release from the supernatant was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Cell death was assessed by lactate dehydrogenase assay. We observed that PI pretreatment blocked the TLR2- and TLR4- as well as the TNF-α-mediated NF-κB activation, in a dose-dependent manner. PI pretreatment also blocked the LPS-induced IL-6 promoter transactivation and TNF-α secretion. These data suggest that PI block HIV replication not only by inhibiting the HIV protease but also by blocking the TLR-and TNF-α-mediated NF-κB activation and proinflammatory cytokine production. These findings may help explain the immunomodulatory effects of PI, and they suggest an advantage for PI-containing drug regimens in the treatment of HIV-infected patients who are coinfected with opportunistic and pathogenic bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3905-3911
Number of pages7
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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