Pharmacogenetics of HIV therapy

Pharmacogenet Genomics. 2006 Oct;16(10):693-703. doi: 10.1097/01.fpc.0000236338.41799.57.


Drug treatment in HIV disease is characterized by variable responses, in terms of both efficacy and toxicity. Both genetic and environmental factors are important determinants of this variability, although the relative contributions are unclear and likely to vary with different drugs. Many of the antiretrovirals are metabolized by polymorphically expressed enzymes (cytochrome P450, CYP450; glucuronyl transferase, GT) and/or transported by drug transporters (ABC and SLC families). Initial studies of antiretroviral efficacy have therefore focused on these genes. For example, it has recently been shown that a CYP2B6 genetic variant predicts higher plasma efavirenz exposure and possibly increased central nervous system toxicity. A large number of studies on ABCB1 genetics with antiretrovirals have also been undertaken; however, as in other therapeutic areas, the data have been contradictory, and currently, no firm conclusions can be reached on the effect of ABCB1 variability as a determinant of efficacy. Indeed, this highlights the need for validation of initial association studies in pharmacogenetic research. By contrast, the clearest association between genetic variants and response relates to the hypersensitivity reaction that occurs with abacavir. The identification that the major histocompatibility complex haplotype 57.1 acts as a strong genetic predisposing factor can be regarded as a prime example of how fundamental research can be translated into a pharmacogenetic test. Nevirapine hypersensitivity has also been related to an HLA gene (HLA-DRB1*0101) but the predictive value does not appear to be sufficient to implement in clinical practice. Much more work needs to be done to define the genetic factors determining response to antiretroviral agents. These studies need to be sufficiently powered and utilize a modern genotyping strategy. Most importantly, the phenotype needs to be carefully characterized. We also need to disseminate this information: a pivotal resource for this can be found at

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Pharmacogenetics*


  • Anti-HIV Agents