Predictors of Virological Response to Atazanavir in Protease Inhibitor-Experienced Patients

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Atazanavir (ATV) is the latest approved HIV protease inhibitor (PI). Even though it is very convenient (only two capsules once a day), concerns have risen about its potency.


The clinical performance of ATV 400 mg once a day was examined in all PI-experienced patients who were included in the ATV expanded access program conducted in a single institution. The predictive value of baseline drug resistance HIV genotypes, ATV plasma trough levels, and the genotypic inhibitory quotient (GIQ) on the virological response at week 24 was assessed.


Data from 92 patients were analyzed. ATV was prescribed as part of a rescue intervention (45%), a simplification strategy (11%), or an attempt to ameliorate hyperlipidemias (23%) or other toxicities (16%). Tenofovir (TDF) was concomitantly used with ATV in 78% of patients. None received ritonavir boosting. In patients with detectable viremia at baseline (65%), the median HIV RNA drop was 0.7 logs. The median ATV Cmin was 0.12 μg/mL (IQR, 0.05-0.22 μg/mL), which is clearly above the IC90 (90% inhibitory concentration) for ATV in wild-type viruses. The virological response did not correlate significantly with ATV Cmin. The median number of protease resistance mutations was lower in patients showing virological response than in nonresponders (1 vs. 5; p = .07). A higher HIV RNA drop was associated with a higher GIQ (p = .02; β = -5.4; 95% CI, -10 to -1). Only 4 patients (4%) discontinued treatment due to ATV-related toxicities (hyperbilirubinemia in 1). Bilirubin levels were associated with ATV plasma concentrations (p= .05; β = 3.2; 95% CI, -0.1 to 6.5). The rate of hypertriglyceridemia and hypercholesterolemia declined significantly with respect to baseline.


ATV is relatively safe and provides significant virological response in PI-experienced patients, mainly among those with a low number of protease resistance mutations. The GIQ predicts accurately the virological response in patients receiving ATV. Hyperbilirubinemia is associated with higher ATV plasma levels.

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