Increasing extracellular protein concentration reduces intracellular antiretroviral drug concentration and antiviral effect

Lindsay B. Avery, Melissa A. Zarr, Rahul P. Bakshi, Robert F. Siliciano, Craig W. Hendrix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to develop an in vitro pharmacodynamic (PD) system to test the impact of protein binding on antiretroviral (ARV) drug effect and intracellular ARV distribution. CD4+ T cells were isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and exposed to varying and physiologically relevant concentrations of human serum albumin (HSA) and the ARV drugs efavirenz (EFV), raltegravir (RAL), etravirine (ETR), and enfuvirtide (ENF). The effect of varying extracellular protein concentration on the intracellular distribution of EFV, RAL, and ETR was assessed using ultraperformance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. HIV infectivity was assessed using an HIV-1 reporter virus expressing an Env-green fluorescent protein (GFP) and quantified using flow cytometry. Increasing extracellular HSA concentration was associated with increased relative infectivity for all drugs tested as well as decreased intracellular concentrations for EFV, RAL, and ETR. Median-effect plots indicate linearity between log10 antiviral effect (fraction of virus affected divided by fraction unaffected) and log 10 intracellular drug concentration. The median [interquartile range (IQR)] slope (m) of the median-effect plots was 2.97 (2.26-5.85) for EFV, 3.52 (3.11-3.74) for ETR, and 2.39 (2.15-3.74) for RAL. The intracellular ARV concentrations associated with half-maximal antiviral effect (IC50) of EFV, ETR, and RAL were 1.2 (0.51-5.39), 39.06 (30.10-51.76), and 4.67 (3.91-5.02) ng/ml, respectively. This study demonstrates a significant reduction in cell penetration and antiviral effect of highly bound ARVs due to increasing extracellular concentration of HSA. This study is therefore the first to demonstrate experimentally how protein binding impacts intracellular distribution and the efficacy of ARVs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1434-1442
Number of pages9
JournalAIDS research and human retroviruses
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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