Objective: In the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus infection, the protease inhibitor ritonavir is used in a low dose (100 mg twice daily) to inhibit cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A4 and thereby increase plasma concentrations of coadministered protease inhibitors. When applied in a therapeutic dose (600 mg twice daily), ritonavir also inhibits CYP2D6. The effect of low-dose ritonavir on CYP2D6 is unknown and was investigated in this study.
Methods: This was a 1-arm, 2-period, fixed-order study in 13 healthy male volunteers who were extensive metabolizers of CYP2D6. The first period examined baseline CYP2D6 activity by evaluating the pharmacokinetics of a single dose of desipramine and by metabolic phenotyping with dextromethorphan. During the second period, participants took ritonavir, 100 mg twice daily, for 2 weeks, followed by repeat assessment of desipramine pharmacokinetics and the dextromethorphan metabolic phenotype in the presence of ritonavir.
Results: Low-dose ritonavir (100 mg twice daily) significantly increased the exposure to single-dose desipramine, as reflected in a geometric mean ratio (with ritonavir/without ritonavir) of 1.26 (95% confidence interval, 1.13-1.40) for the desipramine area under the concentration versus time curve from time 0 to infinity (P < .001). Coadministration of low-dose ritonavir did not significantly affect the dextromethorphan/dextrorphan urinary metabolic ratio and did not convert any extensive metabolizer to a poor metabolizer.
Conclusions: Low-dose ritonavir (100 mg twice daily) exerts a modest inhibitory effect on the activity of CYP2D6 in extensive metabolizers, as assessed with desipramine as the index substrate. This effect was not apparent with the dextromethorphan/dextrorphan metabolic ratio as an indicator for CYP2D6 activity. It is expected that the effect of low-dose ritonavir on CYP2D6 will not require standard dose reductions for CYP2D6 substrates.