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HIV Med. 2012 Oct;13(9):517-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1293.2012.01002.x. Epub 2012 Mar 14.

Comparison of resistance mutation patterns in historical plasma HIV RNA genotypes with those in current proviral HIV DNA genotypes among extensively treated patients with suppressed replication.

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Virology Department, Saint-Louis Hospital-APHP, Inserm U941-Paris 7 Diderot University, Paris, France.



Heavily treatment-experienced patients with good virological control could be at risk of virological failure on switching to a new regimen if pre-existing drug resistance is not taken into account. We examined whether genotyping based on cellular HIV-1 DNA during controlled viraemia identifies resistance mutations detected in plasma HIV-1 RNA during treatment with previous antiretroviral regimens.


All 169 patients enrolled in the Agence Nationale de Recherche sur le SIDA (ANRS) 138-intEgrase inhibitor MK_0518 to Avoid Subcutaneous Injections of EnfuviRtide (EASIER) trial had already received three antiretroviral drug classes [nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI), nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) and protease inhibitor (PI)] and had plasma HIV-1 RNA<400 copies/ml at baseline. The results of previous resistance genotyping of plasma HIV-1 RNA in individual patients were compared with those of resistance genotyping of whole-blood HIV-1 DNA at randomization.


A median of 4 plasma RNA genotypes were available for the 169 patients. The median numbers of resistance mutations in HIV-1 RNA and DNA were, respectively, 5 and 4 for NRTIs, 2 and 1 for NNRTIs, and 10 and 8 for PIs. The difference was significant for all three drug classes (P=0.001). Resistance to at least one antiretroviral drug was detected exclusively in HIV-1 RNA or in DNA in 63% and 13% of patients for NRTI, 47% and 1% of patients for NNRTI, and 50% and 7% of patients for PI, respectively.


This study shows that, among highly treatment-experienced patients on effective highly active antiretroviral therapy, resistance genotyping of HIV-1 DNA detects fewer resistance mutations than previous analyses of HIV-1 RNA. These results have implications for patient management and for the design of switch studies.

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