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AIDS. 2001 Sep 7;15(13):1671-7.

World-wide variation in HIV-1 phenotypic susceptibility in untreated individuals: biologically relevant values for resistance testing.

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Virco UK, Ltd., Cambridge, UK.



To examine the natural phenotypic variability in drug susceptibility among recombinant HIV-1 isolates from a large number of untreated HIV-positive individuals from wide-ranging geographic locations, and to use this information to establish biologically relevant cut-off values for phenotypic antiretroviral susceptibility testing.


Phenotypic susceptibility to 14 antiretroviral agents was determined for HIV-1 samples from > 1000 treatment-naive individuals in seven clinical trials. Samples were from the USA (n = 351), Germany (n = 306), Canada (n = 265), and South Africa (n = 358). Geometric mean fold-resistance and confidence intervals were determined relative to a standard laboratory wild-type virus.


Baseline fold-resistance was approximately log-normally distributed for all antiretroviral agents examined. There was no evidence of large geographical differences in average antiviral susceptibility. Geometric mean fold-resistance for each of 14 antiviral agents was similar (+/- 0.5-fold) for samples derived from the USA, Canada, Germany, or South Africa. The non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) exhibited the broadest distribution of susceptibility; approximately 97.5% of all isolates had < 2.5-4.0, < 3.0-4.5, and < 5-10 fold-decrease in susceptibility to five protease inhibitors, six nucleoside analogues, and three NNRTI, respectively. No consistent geographic pattern or clade effect (B versus C) in either the mean or the distribution of baseline antiretroviral susceptibility was observed.


Phenotypic drug susceptibility of HIV-1 in untreated individuals varies markedly from drug to drug, with broadly similar patterns world-wide. These results have important implications in defining the 'normal range' of phenotypic susceptibility to antiretroviral agents and establish biologically relevant cut-off values for this phenotypic drug susceptibility test.

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