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Cardiovascular Disorders

Myocarditis in CD8-Depleted SIV-Infected Rhesus Macaques after Short-Term Dual Therapy with Nucleoside and Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
Published: Thursday, December 23, 2010
Author: Lakshmanan Annamalai et al.

by Lakshmanan Annamalai, Susan V. Westmoreland, Heber G. Domingues, Dennis G. Walsh, R. Gilberto Gonzalez, Shawn P. O'Neil


Although highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has dramatically reduced the morbidity and mortality associated with HIV infection, a number of antiretroviral toxicities have been described, including myocardial toxicity resulting from the use of nucleotide and nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). Current treatment guidelines recommend the use of HAART regimens containing two NRTIs for initial therapy of HIV-1 positive individuals; however, potential cardiotoxicity resulting from treatment with multiple NRTIs has not been addressed.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We examined myocardial tissue from twelve CD8 lymphocyte-depleted adult rhesus macaques, including eight animals infected with simian immunodeficiency virus, four of which received combined antiretroviral therapy (CART) consisting of two NRTIs [(9-R-2-Phosphonomethoxypropyl Adenine) (PMPA) and (+/-)-beta-2',3'-dideoxy-5-fluoro-3'-thiacytidine (RCV)] for 28 days. Multifocal infiltrates of mononuclear inflammatory cells were present in the myocardium of all macaques that received CART, but not untreated SIV-positive animals or SIV-negative controls. Macrophages were the predominant inflammatory cells within lesions, as shown by immunoreactivity for the macrophage markers Iba1 and CD68. Heart specimens from monkeys that received CART had significantly lower virus burdens than untreated animals (p<0.05), but significantly greater quantities of TNF-a mRNA than either SIV-positive untreated animals or uninfected controls (p<0.05). Interferon-? (IFN-?), IL-1ß and CXCL11 mRNA were upregulated in heart tissue from SIV-positive monkeys, independent of antiretroviral treatment, but CXCL9 mRNA was only upregulated in heart tissue from macaques that received CART.


These results suggest that short-term treatment with multiple NRTIs may be associated with myocarditis, and demonstrate that the CD8-depleted SIV-positive rhesus monkey is a useful model for studying the cardiotoxic effects of combined antiretroviral therapy in the setting of immunodeficiency virus infection.