HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) genotype and susceptibility to RT inhibitors during abacavir monotherapy and combination therapy.


OBJECTIVE: To examine changes in HIV-1 susceptibility (genotype and phenotype) during an initial abacavir monotherapy phase followed by the addition of zidovudine and lamivudine. DESIGN: Sixty HIV-1 infected, antiretroviral therapy-naive subjects were randomized to receive 100, 300 or 600 mg abacavir twice daily. Subjects completing 24 weeks of randomized therapy or meeting a protocol defined switch criterion could switch to open label abacavir/zidovudine/lamivudine. METHODS: Plasma HIV-1 reverse transcriptase was genotyped at baseline, week 12, and at the last time point on ABC monotherapy. Drug susceptibility was analysed at baseline and on subsequent samples with sufficient HIV-1 RNA levels using the recombinant virus assay. Virological responses (week 24) were correlated to week 24 genotypes. RESULTS: Mutant viruses were not detected before week 12 with the exception of one subject. At the latest time point on abacavir monotherapy (range, weeks 6-48), 21 out of 43 subjects harboured virus with resistance conferring mutations including single, double and triple combinations of K65R, L74V, Y115F and M184V. The most common mutational pattern was L74V + M184V (11/21 cases). Twenty of the 21 subjects with isolates containing abacavir-associated mutations reached week 48, and upon addition of lamivudine/zidovudiine, 16 out of 20 (80%) had week 48 plasma HIV-1 -RNA below 400 copies/ml. At week 48, 16 out of 46 genotypes were obtained; one of these was wild-type; 15 contained M184V either alone, in combination with K65R and/or L74V and/or Y115F or with thymidine analogue-associated mutations. Week 48 viral load levels for these 15 subjects was low (median 3.43 log10 copies/ml or -1.99 log10 copies reduction from baseline). Genotype correlated well with phenotypic resistance to ABC; four samples with three abacavir-associated mutations had high level abacavir resistance (> 8-fold) and six samples with two or three mutations showed intermediate (4-8-fold) resistance. All samples with single mutations retained full ABC susceptibility. CONCLUSIONS: Resistance conferring mutations to abacavir were relatively slow to develop during the monotherapy phase, and did not preclude durable efficacy of abacavir/lamivudine/zidovudine up to 48 weeks.




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