Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2009 Jun 29;4(6):e6079. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006079.

Low-abundance HIV drug-resistant viral variants in treatment-experienced persons correlate with historical antiretroviral use.

Author information

Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.



It is largely unknown how frequently low-abundance HIV drug-resistant variants at levels under limit of detection of conventional genotyping (<20% of quasi-species) are present in antiretroviral-experienced persons experiencing virologic failure. Further, the clinical implications of low-abundance drug-resistant variants at time of virologic failure are unknown.


Plasma samples from 22 antiretroviral-experienced subjects collected at time of virologic failure (viral load 1380 to 304,000 copies/mL) were obtained from a specimen bank (from 2004-2007). The prevalence and profile of drug-resistant mutations were determined using Sanger sequencing and ultra-deep pyrosequencing. Genotypes were interpreted using Stanford HIV database algorithm. Antiretroviral treatment histories were obtained by chart review and correlated with drug-resistant mutations. Low-abundance drug-resistant mutations were detected in all 22 subjects by deep sequencing and only in 3 subjects by Sanger sequencing. In total they accounted for 90 of 247 mutations (36%) detected by deep sequencing; the majority of these (95%) were not detected by standard genotyping. A mean of 4 additional mutations per subject were detected by deep sequencing (p<0.0001, 95%CI: 2.85-5.53). The additional low-abundance drug-resistant mutations increased a subject's genotypic resistance to one or more antiretrovirals in 17 of 22 subjects (77%). When correlated with subjects' antiretroviral treatment histories, the additional low-abundance drug-resistant mutations correlated with the failing antiretroviral drugs in 21% subjects and correlated with historical antiretroviral use in 79% subjects (OR, 13.73; 95% CI, 2.5-74.3, p = 0.0016).


Low-abundance HIV drug-resistant mutations in antiretroviral-experienced subjects at time of virologic failure can increase a subject's overall burden of resistance, yet commonly go unrecognized by conventional genotyping. The majority of unrecognized resistant mutations correlate with historical antiretroviral use. Ultra-deep sequencing can provide important historical resistance information for clinicians when planning subsequent antiretroviral regimens for highly treatment-experienced patients, particularly when their prior treatment histories and longitudinal genotypes are not available.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center