HIV-1 Integrase Inhibitors: A Comparative Review of Efficacy and Safety

Drugs. 2020 Nov;80(16):1649-1676. doi: 10.1007/s40265-020-01379-9.


The newest class of antiretrovirals for all persons living with HIV are the integrase strand transfer inhibitors (INSTIs). Since 2007, five INSTIs have been introduced: raltegravir, elvitegravir, dolutegravir, bictegravir, and cabotegravir. The INSTIs have favorable pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties, which contribute to both their effectiveness and their ease of use. With the exception of cabotegravir, each INSTI is US Food and Drug Administration approved for treatment-naïve individuals initiating antiretroviral therapy. All of the INSTIs, except raltegravir, are approved for antiretroviral treatment simplification for virologically suppressed patients without INSTI resistance. Data also support the use of dolutegravir and raltegravir in individuals with antiretroviral resistance as part of an optimized antiretroviral regimen. INSTIs are generally well tolerated by people living with HIV compared with older classes of antiretrovirals, but emerging data suggest that some INSTIs contribute to weight gain. Due to their efficacy, safety, and ease of use, HIV treatment guidelines recommend oral INSTIs as preferred components of antiretroviral therapy for individuals initiating therapy. The newest INSTI, cabotegravir, represents an alternative to oral administration of life-long antiretroviral therapy with the availability of a long-acting injectable formulation. This review summarizes the current use of INSTIs in adults living with HIV, highlighting the similarities and differences within the class related to pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, safety, dosing, and administration that contribute to their role in modern antiretroviral therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Resistance, Viral
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / adverse effects
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / methods
  • HIV Infections / blood
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV Integrase Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • HIV Integrase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • HIV Integrase Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics
  • HIV-1 / drug effects
  • HIV-1 / enzymology
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Viral Load
  • Weight Gain / drug effects*


  • HIV Integrase Inhibitors
  • RNA, Viral