, Volume 73, Issue 3, pp 229–247

HIV Protease Inhibitors in Pregnancy

Pharmacology and Clinical Use
Review Article


The impact of antiretroviral therapy (ART) on the natural history of HIV-1 infection has resulted in dramatic reductions in disease-associated morbidity and mortality. Additionally, the epidemiology of HIV-1 infection worldwide is changing, as women now represent a substantial proportion of infected adults. As more highly effective and tolerable antiretroviral regimens become available, and as the prevention of mother-to-child transmission becomes an attainable goal in the management of HIV-infected individuals, more and more HIV-positive women are choosing to become pregnant and have children. Consequently, it is important to consider the efficacy and safety of antiretroviral agents in pregnancy. Protease inhibitors are a common class of medication used in the treatment of HIV-1 infection and are increasingly being used in pregnancy. However, several studies have raised concerns regarding pharmacokinetic alterations in pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester, which results in suboptimal drug concentrations and a theoretically higher risk of virologic failure and perinatal transmission. Drug level reductions have been observed with each individual protease inhibitor and dose adjustments in pregnancy are suggested for certain agents. Furthermore, studies have also raised concerns regarding the safety of protease inhibitors in pregnancy, particularly as they may increase the risk of pre-term birth and metabolic disturbances. Overall, protease inhibitors are safe and effective for the treatment of HIV-infected pregnant women. Specifically, ritonavir-boosted lopinavir- and atazanavir-based regimens are preferred in pregnancy, while ritonavir-boosted darunavir- and saquinavir-based therapies are reasonable alternatives. This paper reviews the use of protease inhibitors in pregnancy, focusing on pharmacokinetic and safety considerations, and outlines the recommendations for use of this class of medication in the HIV-1-infected pregnant woman.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Women’s College Research InstituteWomen’s College HospitalTorontoCanada
  3. 3.TorontoCanada

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