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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 May 3;108(18):7613-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1018360108. Epub 2011 Apr 18.

Dose-response curve slope is a missing dimension in the analysis of HIV-1 drug resistance.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


HIV-1 drug resistance is a major clinical problem. Resistance is evaluated using in vitro assays measuring the fold change in IC(50) caused by resistance mutations. Antiretroviral drugs are used at concentrations above IC(50), however, and inhibition at clinical concentrations can only be predicted from IC(50) if the shape of the dose-response curve is also known. Curve shape is influenced by cooperative interactions and is described mathematically by the slope parameter or Hill coefficient (m). Implicit in current analysis of resistance is the assumption that mutations shift dose-response curves to the right without affecting the slope. We show here that m is altered by resistance mutations. For reverse transcriptase and fusion inhibitors, single resistance mutations affect both slope and IC(50). For protease inhibitors, single mutations primarily affect slope. For integrase inhibitors, only IC(50) is affected. Thus, there are fundamental pharmacodynamic differences in resistance to different drug classes. Instantaneous inhibitory potential (IIP), the log inhibition of single-round infectivity at clinical concentrations, takes into account both slope and IC(50), and thus provides a direct measure of the reduction in susceptibility produced by mutations and the residual activity of drugs against resistant viruses. The standard measure, fold change in IC(50), does not correlate well with changes in IIP when mutations alter slope. These results challenge a fundamental assumption underlying current analysis of HIV-1 drug resistance and suggest that a more complete understanding of how resistance mutations reduce antiviral activity requires consideration of a previously ignored parameter, the dose-response curve slope.

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