The dual role of pharmacogenetics in HIV treatment: mutations and polymorphisms regulating antiretroviral drug resistance and disposition

Pharmacol Rev. 2012 Jul;64(3):803-33. doi: 10.1124/pr.111.005553.


Significant intra- and interindividual variability has been observed in response to use of pharmacological agents in treatment of HIV infection. Treatment of HIV infection is limited by high rates of adverse drug reactions and development of resistance in a significant proportion of patients as a result of suboptimal drug concentrations. The efficacy of antiretroviral therapy is challenged by the emergence of resistant HIV-1 mutants with reduced susceptibility to antiretroviral drugs. Moreover, pharmacotherapy of patients infected with HIV is challenging because a great number of comorbidities increase polypharmacy and the risk for drug-drug interactions. Drug-metabolizing enzymes and drug transporters regulate drug access to the systemic circulation, target cells, and sanctuary sites. These factors, which determine drug exposure, along with the emergence of mutations conferring resistance to HIV medications, could explain variability in efficacy and adverse drug reactions associated with antiretroviral drugs. In this review, the major factors affecting the disposition of antiretroviral drugs, including key drug-metabolizing enzymes and membrane drug transporters, are outlined. Genetic polymorphisms affecting the activity and/or the expression of cytochromes P450 or UGT isozymes and membrane drug transport proteins are highlighted and include such examples as the association of neurotoxicity with efavirenz, nephrotoxicity with tenofovir, hepatotoxicity with nevirapine, and hyperbilirubinemia with indinavir and atazanavir. Mechanisms of drug resistance conferred by specific viral mutations are also reviewed, with particular attention to replicative viral fitness and transmitted HIV drug resistance with the objectives of providing a better understanding of mechanisms involved in HIV drug resistance and helping health care providers to better manage interpatient variability in drug efficacy and toxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-HIV Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Resistance, Viral / genetics*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / genetics
  • HIV-1 / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Anti-HIV Agents