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PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e30118. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030118. Epub 2012 Feb 15.

Virologic failures on initial boosted-PI regimen infrequently possess low-level variants with major PI resistance mutations by ultra-deep sequencing.

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  • 1Research and Development, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Wallingford, Connecticut, United States of America.



It is unknown whether HIV-positive patients experiencing virologic failure (VF) on boosted-PI (PI/r) regimens without drug resistant mutations (DRM) by standard genotyping harbor low-level PI resistant variants. CASTLE compared the efficacy of atazanavir/ritonavir (ATV/r) with lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r), each in combination with TVD in ARV-naïve subjects.


To determine if VF on an initial PI/r-based regimen possess low-level resistant variants that may affect a subsequent PI-containing regimen.


Patients experiencing VF on a Tenofovir/Emtricitabine+PI/r regimen were evaluated by ultra deep sequencing (UDS) for mutations classified/weighted by Stanford HIVdb. Samples were evaluated for variants to 0.4% levels. 36 VF subjects were evaluated by UDS; 24 had UDS for PI and RT DRMs. Of these 24, 19 (79.2%) had any DRM by UDS. The most common UDS-detected DRM were NRTI in 18 subjects: M184V/I (11), TAMs(7) & K65R(4); PI DRMs were detected in 9 subjects: M46I/V(5), F53L(2), I50V(1), D30N(1), and N88S(1). The remaining 12 subjects, all with VLs<10,000, had protease gene UDS, and 4 had low-level PI DRMs: F53L(2), L76V(1), I54S(1), G73S(1). Overall, 3/36(8.3%) subjects had DRMs identified with Stanford-HIVdb weights >12 for ATV or LPV: N88S (at 0.43% level-mutational load 1,828) in 1 subject on ATV; I50V (0.44%-mutational load 110) and L76V (0.52%-mutational load 20) in 1 subject each, both on LPV. All VF samples remained phenotypically susceptible to the treatment PI/r.


Among persons experiencing VF without PI DRMs with standard genotyping on an initial PI/r regimen, low-level variants possessing major PI DRMs were present in a minority of cases, occurred in isolation, and did not result in phenotypic resistance. NRTI DRMs were detected in a high proportion of subjects. These data suggest that PIs may remain effective in subjects experiencing VF on a PI/r-based regimen when PI DRMs are not detected by standard or UDS genotyping.

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