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Drug Saf. 2006;29(10):865-74.

Neuropsychiatric complications of antiretroviral therapy.

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Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York 10016, USA.


Neuropsychiatric adverse effects related to potent antiretroviral therapy are among the complications that can lead to poor adherence, treatment interruptions, or change of antiretroviral therapy regimens. For a historical perspective, we review early literature and case reports with CNS adverse effects attributed to antiretrovirals. The variability of the cerebrospinal fluid penetration of individual antiretrovirals may contribute to their potential for behavioural and psychiatric manifestations. The majority of neuropsychiatric complications related to potent antiretroviral therapy have been associated with the use of the efavirenz. Updates on the risk of neuropsychiatric manifestations with efavirenz use in patients with a history of psychiatric disorders or substance abuse are reviewed. We include a critical review of recently published data on the long-term CNS adverse effects with efavirenz. Special attention is given to the results of recent investigations on the relationship between the pharmacogenomics of genes responsible for efavirenz metabolism and the plasma concentration of efavirenz. It is important to note that there is no established direct correlation of efavirenz concentrations and symptoms. It is not recommended for practitioners to adjust efavirenz doses in order to prevent or alleviate CNS adverse effects. Patients may be placed at risk for virological failure and resistance if they receive suboptimal doses of efavirenz. The aim of this article is to give a concise review and an update on recent literature concerning neuropsychiatric effects of antiretroviral use in HIV-infected patients. Our intent is to present practitioners with data that can be used in a practical way to both educate and improve outcomes in the HIV-infected patient population.

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