Genetic barrier to resistance for dolutegravir

AIDS Rev. 2015 Jan-Mar;17(1):56-64.


Dolutegravir is a novel integrase strand-transfer inhibitor that displays potent in vitro activity and a remarkably different resistance profile. Its robust pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic properties - long plasma t1/2, high plasma inhibition quotient, and slow dissociation rate from the integrase complex - suggest it should present a high barrier to resistance development. This has been confirmed in pivotal phase III studies of initial therapy, with none out of 1,118 treated individuals selecting resistance-associated mutations at the integrase or reverse transcriptase. In integrase-naive subjects with virological failure, a rescue intervention with dolutegravir has shown significantly higher rates of virological suppression than raltegravir, as well as significantly lower rates of selection of resistance both at the integrase and against the optimized background. Unexpectedly, a mutation rarely selected in this scenario (R263K) induces a fitness cost that prevents HIV-1 from evading drug pressure, and accumulation of further secondary mutations does not occur and has not been able to compensate the replication capacity deficit in the aftermath of the appearance of a single drug resistance mutation. Therefore, both in vitro and in vivo, it leads the virus to a previously unnoticed evolutionary pathway with low chances to develop resistance to both dolutegravir and other families of antiretrovirals present in the background. This high genetic barrier to resistance development in early stages of antiretroviral treatment can help preserve future treatment options in patients who fail antiretroviral therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic
  • Drug Resistance, Viral / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Viral / genetics*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / genetics
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV Integrase Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • HIV Integrase Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics
  • HIV Integrase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase / genetics*
  • HIV-1 / drug effects*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring / administration & dosage
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring / pharmacokinetics*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Mutation, Missense / genetics
  • Oxazines
  • Piperazines
  • Pyridones


  • HIV Integrase Inhibitors
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring
  • Oxazines
  • Piperazines
  • Pyridones
  • dolutegravir
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase