Low-Abundance Resistant Mutations in HIV-1 Subtype C Antiretroviral Therapy-Naïve Individuals as Revealed by Pyrosequencing

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Abstract

Given the recent scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa, we sought to determine how often and at what levels do drug-resistant mutant variants exist in ART-naïve HIV subtype C infected individuals. Samples from 10 ART-naïve Zambian individuals were subjected to ultra-deep pyrosequencing (UDPS) to characterize the frequency of low-abundance drug resistance mutations in the pol gene. Low-abundance clinically relevant variants were detected for nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) and protease inhibitors (PIs) in eight of the ten subjects. Intermediate to high-level resistance was predicted for the majority of NRTIs. Mutations conferring resistance to most first-line and some second-line therapy drugs were also observed. UDPS detected a number of additional major resistant mutations suggesting that these individuals may have an increased risk of virological failure after initiating ART. Moreover, the effectiveness of first-line and even some second-line ART may be compromised in this setting.

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