Ninety percent of HIV-1-infected people worldwide harbour non-subtype B variants of HIV-1. Yet knowledge of resistance mutations in non-B HIV-1 and their clinical relevance is limited. Although a few reviews, editorials and perspectives have been published alluding to this lack of data among non-B subtypes, no systematic review has been performed to date.
With this in mind, we conducted a systematic review (1996–2008) of all published studies performed on the basis of non-subtype B HIV-1 infections treated with antiretroviral drugs that reported genotype resistance tests. Using an established search string, 50 studies were deemed relevant for this review.
These studies reported genotyping data from non-B HIV-1 infections that had been treated with either reverse transcriptase inhibitors or protease inhibitors. While most major resistance mutations in subtype B were also found in non-B subtypes, a few novel mutations in non-B subtypes were recognized. The main differences are reflected in the discoveries that: (i) the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor resistance mutation, V106M, has been seen in subtype C and CRF01_AE, but not in subtype B, (ii) the protease inhibitor mutations L89I/V have been reported in C, F and G subtypes, but not in B, (iii) a nelfinavir selected non-D30N containing pathway predominated in CRF01_AE and CRF02_AG, while the emergence of D30N is favoured in subtypes B and D, (iv) studies on thymidine analog-treated subtype C infections from South Africa, Botswana and Malawi have reported a higher frequency of the K65R resistance mutation than that typically seen with subtype B.
Additionally, some substitutions that seem to impact non-B viruses differentially are: reverse transcriptase mutations G196E, A98G/S, and V75M; and protease mutations M89I/V and I93L.
Polymorphisms that were common in non-B subtypes and that may contribute to resistance tended to persist or become more frequent after drug exposure. Some, but not all, are recognized as minor resistance mutations in B subtypes. These observed differences in resistance pathways may impact cross-resistance and the selection of second-line regimens with protease inhibitors. Attention to newer drug combinations, as well as baseline genotyping of non-B isolates, in well-designed longitudinal studies with long duration of follow up are needed.