Background Cardiovascular disease is currently the leading cause of death in patients with human immunodeficiency virus on combination antiretroviral therapy. Although the use of the protease inhibitor ritonavir has been associated with increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease, the underlying mechanisms remain ill-defined. Herein, we tested the hypothesis that ritonavir-mediated lipoatrophy causes endothelial dysfunction via reducing endothelial leptin signaling. Methods and Results Long-term (4 weeks) but not short-term (3 days) treatment with ritonavir reduced body weight, fat mass, and leptin levels and induced endothelial dysfunction in mice. Moreover, ritonavir increased vascular NADPH oxidase 1, aortic H2O2 levels as well as interleukin-1β, GATA3 (GATA binding protein 3), the macrophage marker (F4/80), and C-C chemokine receptor type 5 (CCR5) expression. Reactive oxygen species scavenging with tempol restored endothelial function, and both NADPH oxidase 1 and CCR5 deletion in mice protected from ritonavir-mediated endothelial dysfunction and vascular inflammation. Remarkably, leptin infusion markedly improved endothelial function and significantly reduced vascular NADPH oxidase 1, interleukin-1β, GATA3, F4/80, and CCR5 levels in ritonavir-treated animals. Selective deficiency in endothelial leptin receptor abolished the protective effects of leptin infusion on endothelial function. Conversely, selective increases in endothelial leptin signaling with protein tyrosine phosphatase deletion blunted ritonavir-induced endothelial dysfunction. Conclusions All together, these data indicate that ritonavir-associated endothelial dysfunction is a direct consequence of a reduction in adiposity and leptin secretion, which decreases endothelial leptin signaling and leads to a NADPH oxidase 1-induced, CCR5-mediated reduction in NO bioavailability. These latter data also introduce leptin deficiency as an additional contributor to cardiovascular disease and leptin as a negative regulator of CCR5 expression, which may provide beneficial avenues for limiting human immunodeficiency virus infection.
- NADPH oxidase
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine