Background: A high genetic barrier to resistance to the integrase strand transfer inhibitor (INSTI) dolutegravir has been reported in vitro and in vivo. We describe the dynamics of INSTI resistance-associated mutations (INSTI-RAMs) and mutations in the 3'-polypurine tract (3'-PPT) in relation to virologic failure (VF) observed in the randomized Dolutegravir as Maintenance Monotherapy for HIV-1 study (DOMONO, NCT02401828).
Methods: From 10 patients with VF, plasma samples were collected before the start of cART and during VF, and were used to generate Sanger sequences of integrase, the 5' terminal bases of the 3' long terminal repeat (LTR), and the 3'-PPT.
Results: Median human immunodeficiency virus RNA load at VF was 3490 copies/mL (interquartile range 1440-4990 copies/mL). INSTI-RAMs (S230R, R263K, N155H, and E92Q+N155H) were detected in 4 patients, no INSTI-RAMs were detected in 4 patients, and sequencing of the integrase gene was unsuccessful in 2 patients. The time to VF ranged from 4 weeks to 72 weeks. In 1 patient, mutations developed in the highly conserved 3'-PPT. No changes in the terminal bases of the 3'-LTR were observed.
Conclusions: The genetic barrier to resistance is too low to justify dolutegravir maintenance monotherapy because single INSTI-RAMs are sufficient to cause VF. The large variation in time to VF suggests that stochastic reactivation of a preexisting provirus containing a single INSTI-RAM is the mechanism for failure. Changes in the 3'-PPT point to a new dolutegravir resistance mechanism in vivo.
Clinical trials registration: NCT02401828.