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Hair samples from infants show exposure to anti-HIV drugs in the womb and during breast-feeding
Date:7/21/2012

In the study, the team took hair and blood samples from two groups of HIV-positive mothers, all of whom breast-fed their infants. For 45 mother/infant pairs, the mothers' antiretroviral regimens included a protease inhibitor, lopinavir, boosted by ritonavir, another antiretroviral medication. The other 64 mothers were on an efavirenz-based regimen.

Infants in the lopinavir group had levels of the drug in their hair that measured 87 percent of the levels found in their mothers' hair. The levels of ritonavir were about 45 percent of the levels found in their mothers' hair. When the researchers looked at the drug levels in the blood drawn from the mothers and infants at 12 weeks, they found the expected levels of lopinavir and ritonavir in the mothers, but none of either in the blood of the infants.

"The inability to find drug in the infants' blood at 12 weeks tells us that the lopinavir and ritonavir in their hair is not due to recent exposure, so breast-feeding did not transfer these drugs to the infants. Our conclusion is that the lopinavir and ritonavir were transferred to the babies in the womb, and lopinavir at quite a high level," said Gandhi.

In the efavirenz group, researchers found infant drug levels in hair samples that were about 40 percent of the levels found in their mothers. Additionally, they found that infants had levels in their blood that were about 15 percent of what was found in their mothers.

These findings indicate a moderate transfer of efavirenz both in the womb and during breastfeeding said Gandhi.

"Our findings, as we verify them, will have important implications. One, being able to measure drug exposures of fetuses in the womb and during breast-feeding can help us understand how to better protect infants from HIV transmission from HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, birth and after birth. Antiretroviral medications are delivered prophylactically to HIV-positive mothers and newborns
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Contact: Jeff Sheehy
jsheehy@ari.ucsf.edu
415-597-8165
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert  

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