Differences in nevirapine biotransformation as a factor for its sex-dependent dimorphic profile of adverse drug reactions.

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OBJECTIVES Nevirapine is widely used for the treatment of HIV-1 infection; however, its chronic use has been associated with severe liver and skin toxicity. Women are at increased risk for these toxic events, but the reasons for the sex-related differences are unclear. Disparities in the biotransformation of nevirapine and the generation of toxic metabolites between men and women might be the underlying cause. The present work aimed to explore sex differences in nevirapine biotransformation as a potential factor in nevirapine-induced toxicity. METHODS All included subjects were adults who had been receiving 400 mg of nevirapine once daily for at least 1 month. Blood samples were collected and the levels of nevirapine and its phase I metabolites were quantified by HPLC. Anthropometric and clinical data, and nevirapine metabolite profiles, were assessed for sex-related differences. RESULTS A total of 52 patients were included (63% were men). Body weight was lower in women (P = 0.028) and female sex was associated with higher alkaline phosphatase (P = 0.036) and lactate dehydrogenase (P = 0.037) levels. The plasma concentrations of nevirapine (P = 0.030) and the metabolite 3-hydroxy-nevirapine (P = 0.035), as well as the proportions of the metabolites 12-hydroxy-nevirapine (P = 0.037) and 3-hydroxy-nevirapine (P = 0.001), were higher in women, when adjusted for body weight. CONCLUSIONS There was a sex-dependent variation in nevirapine biotransformation, particularly in the generation of the 12-hydroxy-nevirapine and 3-hydroxy-nevirapine metabolites. These data are consistent with the sex-dependent formation of toxic reactive metabolites, which may contribute to the sex-dependent dimorphic profile of nevirapine toxicity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-482
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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