Effective combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) has tremendously reduced HIV-associated morbidity, mortality and mother-to-child transmission. However, the benefits of cART are threatened by comorbidities, adverse drug reactions and virus resistance to existing treatment regimens. One of the most occurring comorbidities is cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection.
To investigate the effects of cART on the occurrence of CMV infection among pregnant women.
Using a cross-sectional study design, 175 HIV-infected pregnant women were recruited, and data were obtained from their clinical records. Blood samples were collected for host DNA, CMV DNA and plasma efavirenz (EFV) measurement. CMV DNA was measured using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). CYP2B6 c.516G>T and CYP2B6 c.983T>C single nucleotide polymorphisms were characterised using PCR/restriction fragment length polymorphism and TaqMan assays, respectively. Plasma EFV concentrations were determined using high-performance liquid chromatography.
There was an inverse association between plasma EFV concentration and CMV DNA. Participants with lower plasma EFV concentrations were significantly (p<0.001) more likely to be CMV DNA positive than those with higher plasma concentrations. This result is also supported by the observation that carriers of CYP2B6 poor-metaboliser genotypes (CYP2B6 c.516T/T and CYP2B6 c.983T/C) were less likely to be positive for CMV DNA. Furthermore, poor metabolism as denoted by CYP2B6 c.516T/T and CYP2B6 c.983T/C genotypes was significantly associated with lower CMV viral load.
HIV treatment disrupts the balance between host and co-infecting microbes. Reduced or subtherapeutic levels of antiretroviral drugs, which could be exacerbated by genetic polymorphisms in drug metabolism genes and non-adherence, predispose infected individuals to an increased risk of CMV infection in pregnancy.