The human immunodeficiency virus protease inhibitor ritonavir is potentially active against urological malignancies
Department of Urology, National Defense Medical College, Tokorozawa, Japan
Abstract: The human immunodeficiency virus protease inhibitor ritonavir has recently been shown to have antineoplastic activity, and its use in urological malignancies is under investigation with an eye toward drug repositioning. Ritonavir is thought to exert its antineoplastic activity by inhibiting multiple signaling pathways, including the Akt and nuclear factor-kappaB pathways. It can increase the amount of unfolded proteins in the cell by inhibiting both the proteasome and heat shock protein 90. Combinations of ritonavir with agents that increase the amount of unfolded proteins, such as proteasome inhibitors, histone deacetylase inhibitors, or heat shock protein 90 inhibitors, therefore, induce endoplasmic reticulum stress cooperatively and thereby kill cancer cells effectively. Ritonavir is also a potent cytochrome P450 3A4 and P-glycoprotein inhibitor, increasing the intracellular concentration of combined drugs by inhibiting their degradation and efflux from cancer cells and thereby enhancing their antineoplastic activity. Furthermore, riotnavir’s antineoplastic activity includes modulation of immune system activity. Therapies using ritonavir are thus an attractive new approach to cancer treatment and, due to their novel mechanisms of action, are expected to be effective against malignancies that are refractory to current treatment strategies. Further investigations using ritonavir are expected to find new uses for clinically available drugs in the treatment of urological malignancies as well as many other types of cancer.
Keywords: drug repositioning, novel treatment
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