Protease Inhibitors, Saquinavir and Darunavir, Inhibit Oligodendrocyte Maturation: Implications for Lysosomal Stress

Lindsay Festa, Lindsay M. Roth, Brigid K. Jensen, Jonathan D. Geiger, Kelly L. Jordan-Sciutto, Judith B. Grinspan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Despite the introduction of antiretroviral (ARV) therapy (ART), approximately 30–50% of people living with human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) will develop a spectrum of measurable neurocognitive dysfunction, collectively called HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND). While the clinical manifestations of HAND have changed with the advent of ART, certain pathological features have endured, including white matter alterations and dysfunction. The persistence of white matter alterations in the post-ART era suggests that ARV drugs themselves may contribute to HAND pathology. Our group has previously demonstrated that two ARV compounds from the protease inhibitor (PI) class, ritonavir and lopinavir, inhibit oligodendrocyte maturation and myelin protein production. We hypothesized that other members of the PI class, saquinavir and darunavir, could also negatively impact oligodendrocyte differentiation. Here we demonstrate that treating primary rat oligodendrocyte precursor cells with therapeutically relevant concentrations of either ARV drug results in a concentration-dependent inhibition of oligodendrocyte maturation in vitro. Furthermore, we show that acidifying endolysosomal pH via a mucolipin transient receptor potential channel 1 (TRPML1) agonist provides protection against saquinavir- and darunavir-induced inhibition of oligodendrocyte maturation. Moreover, our findings suggest, for the first time, an imperative role of proper endolysosomal pH in regulating OL differentation, and that therapeutic targeting of endolysosomes may provide protection against ARV-induced oligodendrocyte dysregulation. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-180
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Antiretroviral therapy
  • Endolysosome
  • Oligodendrocyte
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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