Background: Rifampicin induces expression of the cytochrome P450 isoenzyme 2B6 (CYP2B6), which metabolizes efavirenz. The CYP2B6 516G>T polymorphism impairs efavirenz metabolism and occurs more commonly in Africans than in Caucasians. We explored the effect of rifampicin-based antitubercular therapy and the 516G>T polymorphism on efavirenz concentrations in HIV-infected patients in South Africa.
Methods: Between-patient and within-patient comparisons were made of mid-dosing interval efavirenz plasma concentrations in adults on antiretroviral therapy including efavirenz 600 mg daily, with and without antitubercular therapy.
Results: There were 142 participants (40 were on antitubercular therapy and 102 were controls), the mean weight was 66 kg. Median efavirenz concentration was 2.4 mg/l (interquartile range [IQR] 1.3-3.1) and 1.8 mg/l (IQR 1.4-4.4) in participants on antitubercular therapy and controls, respectively (P=0.734). Paired efavirenz concentrations during and after antitubercular therapy in 17 participants were also similar (P=0.113). Genotyping results were 60 (49%) G/G homozygotes, 46 (38%) G/T heterozygotes and 16 (13%) T/T homozygotes. In a multivariate logistic regression model adjusted for sex, weight and concomitant antitubercular therapy, the 516G>T polymorphism was strongly associated with high (>4 mg/l) efavirenz concentrations: odds ratio (OR) 4.4 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3-14.9) for G/T versus G/G and 31.1 (95% CI 6.6-146.6) for T/T versus G/G. High efavirenz concentrations were associated with severe sleep disturbance (P=0.048). Low (<1 mg/l) efavirenz concentrations were associated with virological failure (OR 12.5, 95% CI 2.7-57.3).
Conclusions: Efavirenz can be used together with rifampicin-based antitubercular therapy without dose adjustment in this population. The 516G>T polymorphism occurred commonly and was associated with high efavirenz concentrations.