Three categories of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)-associated major toxic effects have been identified: nucleoside-related toxic effects (e.g., neuropathy, myopathy, pancreatitis, hepatic steatosis, lactic acidosis, and possibly lipoatrophy), metabolic complications (e.g., fat redistribution, insulin resistance, and hyperlipidemia), and bone disease (e.g., osteopenia and/or osteoporosis). The toxic effects caused by nucleosides are hypothesized to be a result of mitochondrial injury and include myopathy, pancreatitis, liver failure, and lactic acidosis. Alterations in lactic acid metabolism range from common instances of asymptomatic lactic acidemia to rare occurrences of life-threatening lactic acidosis with hepatic steatosis. A metabolic syndrome consisting of lipodystrophy (i.e., fat redistribution), hyperlipidemia and insulin resistance has been observed, particularly with protease inhibitor treatment. Some additive interaction between protease inhibitors and nucleosides has also been described. The potential relationship of these metabolic abnormalities to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes has broad implications on long-term patient management. Lipodystrophy associated with HAART is generally accompanied by potentially serious abnormalities, including dyslipidemia (i.e., hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia) and altered glucose metabolism (i.e., insulin resistance). Regimens of HAART may have adverse effects on bone metabolism, as indicated by emerging reports of osteopenia, osteoporosis, and avascular necrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S28-S40
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2002


  • Antiretroviral therapy
  • Lactic acidemia
  • Lactic acidosis
  • Lipodystrophy


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