The PENPACT-1 trial compared virologic thresholds to determine when to switch to second-line antiretroviral therapy (ART). Using PENPACT-1 data, we aimed to describe HIV-1 drug resistance accumulation on first-line ART by virologic threshold.
PENPACT-1 had a 2x2 factorial design, randomizing HIV-infected children to start protease inhibitor (PI) versus non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) based ART, and switch at a 1000c/ml versus 30000c/ml threshold. Switch-criteria were: not achieving the threshold by week 24, confirmed rebound above the threshold thereafter, or CDC-C event. Resistance tests were performed on samples ≥1000c/ml before switch, re-suppression and at 4-year/trial-end.
Sixty-seven children started PI-based ART and were randomized to switch at 1000c/ml (PI-1000), 64 PIs and 30000c/ml (PI-30000), 67 NNRTIs and 1000c/ml (NNRTI-1000), and 65 NNRTI and 30000c/ml (NNRTI-30000). Ninety-four (36%) children reached the 1000c/ml switch-criteria during 5 years follow-up. In 30000c/ml threshold arms, median time from 1000c/ml to 30000c/ml switch-criteria was 58 (PI) versus 80 (NNRTI) weeks (P=0.81). In NNRTI-30000 more NRTI resistance mutations accumulated than other groups. NNRTI mutations were selected before switching at 1000c/ml (23% NNRTI-1000, 27% NNRTI-30000). Sixty-two children started abacavir+lamivudine, 166 lamivudine+zidovudine or stavudine, and 35 other NRTIs. The abacavir+lamivudine group acquired fewest NRTI mutations. Of 60 switched to second-line, 79% PI-1000, 63% PI-30000, 64% NNRTI-1000 and 100% NNRTI-30000 were <400c/ml 24 weeks later.
Children on first-line NNRTI-based ART who were randomized to switch at a higher virologic threshold developed the most resistance, yet re-suppressed on second-line. An abacavir+lamivudine NRTI combination seemed protective against development of NRTI resistance.