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Should PWA avoid protease?

May 20, 2001

Browsing through a vitamin catalogue, I was surprised to find protease listed as an ingredient in several supplements. Papaine (papaya enzyme) was mentioned as the source. This raises the concern of whether it is safe for PWA to take enzyme supplements or high-enzyme foods such as papaya or pineapple. Could these (or any other) food products counteract the effects of protease inhibitors, or otherwise encourage HIV replication?

Response from Dr. Young

Thanks for your question.

Many of the foods that we ingest contain proteins, some of which are enzymes. There should be no reason to expect that these enzymes will interact in any way whatsoever with HIV protease inhibitors. The HIV protease inhibitors were designed to interact very specifically (with atomic level precision) with only the viral protein (thats why they don't inhibit the general function of our cells).

It is, nevertheless important to keep an eye out for possible unexpected interactions, such as recently been demonstrated for HIV protease inhibitors (and by suggestion, maybe non-nukes too) and St. John's wort.

Thanks for your question. BY

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