Dolutegravir (DTG) is a first-line antiretroviral drug (ARV) used in combination therapy for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) infection. The drug is effective, safe, and well tolerated. Nonetheless, concerns have recently emerged for its usage in pregnant women or those of child-bearing age. Notably, DTG-based ARV regimens have been linked to birth defects seen as a consequence of periconceptional usages. To this end, uncovering an underlying mechanism for DTG-associated adverse fetal development outcomes has gained clinical and basic research interest. We now report that DTG inhibits matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) activities that could affect fetal neurodevelopment. DTG is a broad-spectrum MMPs inhibitor and binds to Zn++ at the enzyme’s catalytic domain. Studies performed in pregnant mice show that DTG readily reaches the fetal central nervous system during gestation and inhibits MMP activity. Postnatal screenings of brain health in mice pups identified neuroinflammation and neuronal impairment. These abnormalities persist as a consequence of in utero DTG exposure. We conclude that DTG inhibition of MMPs activities during gestation has the potential to affect prenatal and postnatal neurodevelopment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5703-5721
Number of pages19
JournalMolecular Neurobiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Antiretroviral drug
  • Dolutegravir
  • HIV-1
  • Matrix metalloproteinases
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Pregnancy outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)


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