Inhibition of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication by 7-methyl-6,8-bis(methylthio)pyrrolo[1,2-a]pyrazine, an in vivo metabolite of oltipraz.Mol Pharmacol 1995; 48(1):15-20MP
Oltipraz, an inhibitor of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication in vitro (ED50 approximately 10 microM), undergoes extensive metabolism in vivo. Most of the orally administered drug undergoes opening of the dithiolethione ring, reduction, recyclization, and methylation to form 7-methyl-6,8-bis(methylthio)pyrrolo[1,2-a]pyrazine ("metabolite III"). We report here that metabolite III inhibits viral replication in vitro (ED50 approximately 25 microM) in acutely infected H9 and CEM T cell lymphoma cell lines. Although both metabolite III and oltipraz were able to inhibit phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate-stimulated viral replication in the chronically infected U1 promonocytic leukemia cell line, only metabolite III was able to inhibit phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate-stimulated viral replication in chronically infected ACH-2 T cell lymphoma cells. The results with ACH-2 cells suggest that oltipraz inhibits an early stage of the viral life cycle, whereas metabolite III affects human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication at a step distal to viral integration. This is consistent with the finding that oltipraz inhibits reverse transcriptase, whereas metabolite III does not. Although the mean ED50 for metabolite III in acutely infected peripheral blood mononuclear cells was 18 microM, the ED50 was below 5 microM in three of eight independent experiments. Studies of metabolite III in combination with oltipraz in acutely infected peripheral blood mononuclear cells demonstrated significant antiviral synergy. These results raise the possibility that the in vitro potency of oltipraz may underestimate its antiretroviral activity in vivo. Based on these results, the pharmacokinetics of oltipraz and metabolite III will be compared with the pharmacodynamic effects of orally administered oltipraz in a forthcoming phase I/II trial of oltipraz in patients with p24 antigenemia.