January 2012

A protein with protective qualities for HIV patients

JLR_coverPeople infected with HIV often develop metabolic complications and atherosclerosis. Treatment of these individuals, therefore, must take into account ways to prevent or slow the development of these concomitant, potentially life-threatening conditions, and treatment decisions can be confusing, because different classes of the medications used to battle HIV differ in their side effects. Serum paraoxonase-3 is a protein that has been associated with lowering the risk of developing coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis. PON3 also prevents the formation of atherogenic, oxidized low-density lipoproteins, which are part of atherosclerotic plaques.

In May, Gerard Aragonés of Hospital Universitari de Sant Joan de Reus in Spain and colleagues published an article in the Journal of Lipid Research describing their new assay to measure serum PON3 concentrations using high-throughput, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In a follow-up article published in this month’s issue of JLR, Aragonés et al. report in “Serum paraoxonase-3 concentration in HIV-infected patients: Evidence for a protective role against oxidation” their results upon examination of serum PON3 concentrations in HIV-infected individuals as compared with those in healthy controls.

Compared with healthy study participants, HIV patients had significantly higher serum PON3 concentrations. Also observed in these patients was a significant inverse relationship between serum PON3 concentration and levels of oxidized LDL. The researchers say that this is the first in vivo evidence of PON3’s possible protection against infection, suggesting further study is warranted on exactly how PON3 affects the course of HIV. HIV patients taking a class of drugs called nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors had decreased serum PON3 concentrations, a result that correlates negative changes to metabolism with long-term NNRTI use and may drive clinicians to reconsider their patients’ treatment plans.

Mary L. Chang (mchang@asbmb.org) is managing editor of the JLR and coordinating journal manager of MCP.

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