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Background: Efavirenz (EFV) and nevirapine (NVP) are metabolized by cytochrome P450 2B6 (CYP2B6). Allele 516 G>T (Gln172His) is associated with diminished activity of this isoenzyme, and may lead to differences in drug exposure.

Methods: We evaluated this allele as a pharmacogenetic marker of EFV and NVP pharmacokinetics and EFV toxicity in 167 participants receiving EFV and 59 receiving NVP recruited within the genetics project of the Swiss HIV Cohort Study. Drug concentrations were measured in plasma and in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from the same sample. Neuropsychological toxicity of EFV (sleep disorders, mood disorders, fatigue) was assessed using a standardized questionnaire.

Results and conclusions: CYP2B6 516TT was associated with greater plasma and intracellular exposure to EFV, and greater plasma exposure to NVP. Intracellular drug concentration, and CYP2B6 genotype were predictors of EFV neuropsychological toxicity. CYP2B6 genotyping may be useful to complement an individualization strategy based on plasma drug determinations to increase the safety and tolerability of EFV.

(C) 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.