Race/Ethnicity and the Pharmacogenetics of Reported Suicidality With Efavirenz Among Clinical Trials Participants

J Infect Dis. 2017 Sep 1;216(5):554-564. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jix248.


Background: We examined associations between suicidality and genotypes that predict plasma efavirenz exposure among AIDS Clinical Trials Group study participants in the United States.

Methods: Four clinical trials randomly assigned treatment-naive participants to efavirenz-containing regimens; suicidality was defined as reported suicidal ideation or attempted or completed suicide. Genotypes that predict plasma efavirenz exposure were defined by CYP2B6 and CYP2A6 polymorphisms. Associations were evaluated with weighted Cox proportional hazards models stratified by race/ethnicity. Additional analyses adjusted for genetic ancestry and selected covariates.

Results: Among 1833 participants, suicidality was documented in 41 in exposed analyses, and 34 in on-treatment analyses. In unadjusted analyses based on 12 genotype levels, suicidality increased per level in exposed (hazard ratio, 1.11; 95% confidence interval, .96-1.27) and on-treatment 1.16; 1.01-1.34) analyses. In the on-treatment analysis, the association was strongest among white but nearly null among black participants. Considering 3 metabolizer levels (extensive, intermediate and slow), slow metabolizers were at increased risk. Results were similar after baseline covariate-adjustment for genetic ancestry, sex, age, weight, injection drug use history, and psychiatric history or recent psychoactive medication.

Conclusions: Genotypes that predict higher plasma efavirenz exposure were associated with increased risk of suicidality. Strength of association varied by race/ethnicity.

Keywords: CYP2B6; HIV; efavirenz; pharmacogenetics; suicidality.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alkynes
  • Anti-HIV Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-HIV Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / blood
  • Benzoxazines / administration & dosage
  • Benzoxazines / adverse effects*
  • Benzoxazines / blood
  • Cyclopropanes
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2A6 / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2B6 / genetics
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genotype
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pharmacogenetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Racial Groups
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Suicide / ethnology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Alkynes
  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Benzoxazines
  • Cyclopropanes
  • CYP2A6 protein, human
  • CYP2B6 protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2A6
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2B6
  • efavirenz