Birth Definitions

Zidovudine Definition


Zidovudine, also known as AZT, is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) used as an antiretroviral drug in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, especially in preventing mother-to-child transmission in utero, during labor or birth, and after delivery due to breastfeeding. Zidovudine was the first antiretroviral drug to be approved for use in the United States, and was approved by the FDA in 1987. It is still widely used today, both alone and in combination with other antiretroviral drugs.

Zidovudine is a nucleoside, which means it is composed of a nitrogenous base (in this case, thymidine) and a sugar (deoxyribose). The sugar is attached to the 3’ carbon atom of the thymidine base, and the resulting nucleoside is then phosphorylated to form the nucleotide zidovudine triphosphate (AZTTP). AZTTP is a competitive inhibitor of the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase enzyme, and thus prevents the conversion of viral RNA to DNA. This ultimately leads to the death of the virus.

Side Effects Associated with its Use

While zidovudine is generally well-tolerated, there are some potential side effects associated with its use. These include fatigue, headache, nausea, fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. More serious side effects include anemia, neutropenia, and lactic acidosis. Zidovudine is also known to cause birth defects, and thus pregnant women are advised not to take the drug.

This image shows how often the term ‘Zidovudine’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:

Other Related Terms

There are several terms closely associated with zidovudine, including:

  • Antiretroviral drugs
  • Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)
  • Thymidine

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