Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) contains genetic information in the form of RNA. When HIV infects a human T cell, it must convert this RNA to DNA. It does so by using an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. Reverse transcriptase inhibitors interfere with this process.
There are two major categories of reverse transcriptase inhibitors: nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) .
Reverse transcriptase inhibitors include:
- Combivir (lamivudine and zidovudine)
- Emtriva (emtricitabine)
- Epivir (lamivudine)
- Epzicom (abacavir and lamivudine)
- Hivid (zalcitabine)
- Rescriptor (delaviridine)
- Retrovir (AZT, zidovudine)
- Trizivir (abacavir-lamivudine-zidovudine)
- Truvada (emtricitabine-tenofovir)
- Videx (didanosine)
- Viramune (nevirapine)
- Viread (tenofovir)
- Zerit (stavudine)
- Ziagen (abacavir)
Possible Benefits and Risks
The reverse transcriptase inhibitors lamivudine and zidovudine can cause damage to the mitochondria, the energy-producing subunits of cells. This may lead to symptoms such as lactic acidosis (a dangerous metabolic derangement),
Use of the herb St. John’s wort can lower blood levels of numerous medications, including
1. Christensen ER, Stegger M, Jensen-Fangel S, et al. Mitochondrial DNA levels in fat and blood cells from patients with lipodystrophy or peripheral neuropathy and the effect of 90 days of high-dose coenzyme Q treatment: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Clinical Infectious Diseases . 2004;39:1371–1379.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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