Objective: To assess efavirenz plasma concentrations and their association with treatment efficacy and tolerance of efavirenz 600 mg daily in HIV-tuberculosis co-infected patients.
Methods: HIV-infected adults with CD4+ T cell count ≤ 200/mm(3) received standard 6-month tuberculosis treatment and antiretroviral therapy including a daily-dose of 600 mg of efavirenz, irrespective of their body weight. Mid-dose blood samples were drawn both on tuberculosis treatment (week +2 and week +6 after antiretroviral therapy initiation, and week 22 of follow-up) and off tuberculosis treatment (week 50 of follow-up). Considered therapeutic range was 1,000 to 4,000 ng/mL. Multivariate analysis was performed to evaluate the association between efavirenz concentration below 1,000 ng/mL and virological failure. Linear regression was used to test the association between efavirenz exposure and CD4+ T cell gain. Severe side effects potentially related to efavirenz were described and their association with efavirenz exposure was tested by multivariate analysis.
Results: Efavirenz plasma concentrations were available in 540 patients. Median [interquartile range] efavirenz concentrations were 2,674 ng/mL [1,690-4,533], 2,667 ng/mL [1,753-4,494] and 2,799 ng/mL [1,804-4,744] at week +2, week +6, week 22, respectively, and 2,766 ng/mL [1,941-3,976] at week 50. Efavirenz concentrations were lower at week 50 (off rifampicin) compared to week 22 (on rifampicin) (p<0.001). Late attendance to study visit and low hemoglobinemia were the only factors associated with an increased risk of efavirenz concentration below 1,000 ng/mL. Efavirenz concentration below 1,000 ng/mL was not associated with treatment failure. Efavirenz concentration above 4,000 ng/mL was associated with higher risk of central nervous system side effects (p<0.001) and of hepatotoxicity (p<0.001).
Conclusion: Body weight and tuberculosis treatment were not associated with low efavirenz concentrations or treatment failure, supporting the 600 mg daily-dose of efavirenz in HIV-tuberculosis co-infected patients. High efavirenz concentrations were related to a higher risk of central nervous system side effects and hepatotoxicity.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01300481.