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Background: Novel strategies to increase the efficacy of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs will be of crucial importance. We hypothesize that membranes of HIV-1-infected cells and enveloped HIV-1 particles may be preferentially targeted by the phytopeptide, cycloviolacin O2 (CyO2) to significantly enhance ARV efficacy.

Methods: Physiologically safe concentrations of CyO2 were determined via red blood cell (RBC) hemolysis. SYTOX-green dye-uptake and radiolabeled saquinavir (³H-SQV) uptake assays were used to measure pore-formation and drug uptake, respectively. ELISA, reporter assays and ultracentrifugation were conducted to analyze the antiviral efficacy of HIV-1 protease and fusion inhibitors alone and co-exposed to CyO2.

Results: CyO2 concentrations below 0.5 μM did not show substantial hemolytic activity, yet these concentrations enabled rapid pore-formation in HIV-infected T-cells and monocytes and increased drug uptake. ELISA for HIV-1 p24 indicated that CyO2 enhances the antiviral efficacy of both SQV and nelfinavir. CyO2 (< 0.5 μM) alone decreases HIV-1 p24 production, but it did not affect the transcription regulatory function of the HIV-1 long terminal repeat (LTR). Ultracentrifugation studies clearly showed that CyO2 exposure disrupted viral integrity and decreased the p24 content of viral particles. Furthermore, direct HIV-1 inactivation by CyO2 enhanced the efficacy of enfuvirtide.

Conclusions: The membrane-active properties of CyO2 may help suppress viral load and augment antiretroviral drug efficacy.


© 2019 by the authors.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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