HIV-1 Drug Resistance in Variants from the Female Genital Tract and Plasma

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Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) drug-resistance mutations may arise in a fraction of viral variants, and these variants may differ between compartments, including the genital tract and blood.


We studied 14 women with detectable HIV-1 in both the genital tract and plasma despite antiretroviral treatment. We obtained HIV-1 RNA sequences from 280 unique viral variants and then determined the resistance genotype and the predicted phenotype (Virtual Phenotype; Virco BVBA) of each variant.


Eight patients (57%) displayed mutations conferring high-level HIV-1 drug resistance. Although we observed differences in specific mutations among viral variants, 13 of the 14 women showed highly concordant HIV-1 genotypic and predicted phenotypic resistance patterns in the 2 compartments. In 1 patient, resistance mutations appeared only in plasma; all variants in her genital tract, which displayed a low viral load, were susceptible.


These data suggest that, for the majority of women, determination of HIV-1 drug resistance in the plasma will approximate the drug-resistance pattern in the genital tract. Analysis of individual variants enabled us to identify minority species bearing distinctive linked mutations, which may serve as a source of novel resistance genotypes. These data are relevant to clinical management and the evolution of drug resistance.

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