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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

to prevent transmission, and fetuses derive protection from transmission if their HIV-positive mothers are on an antiretroviral regimen," she said.

"Second, the development of resistance to antiretroviral medications in infants is an important issue. HIV develops resistant mutations after fairly low levels of exposure to the class of medications to which efavirenz belongs, non-nucleoside transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs). Additionally, hair sampling for antiretroviral exposure levels will ultimately help us monitor toxicities associated with these medications in infants."

Using hair to measure exposure to antiretrovirals has advantages in that it is a painless, bloodless, biohazard-free method of collecting a stable specimen from HIV patients. It measures drug exposure over time and has been shown to be more predictive of treatment response than the "snapshot" of exposure provided by a single plasma level of medication.

Gandhi said that researchers are finding hair sampling to be a very useful tool in several settings. One use is in resource-limited settings where collecting, storing and handling blood draws is difficult and expensive. Hair is snipped, wrapped in foil and needs no refrigeration.

Another setting is in monitoring drug exposures in uninfected people. Researchers have been using the technique to measure adherence/drug levels in some of the pre-exposure prophylaxis trials, where high-risk uninfected patients take antiretrovirals to prevent getting infected with HIV. Non HIV-infected individuals cannot be monitored for adherence to antiretrovirals like HIV-infected individuals (where levels of HIV in the blood are measured routinely to indicate how well they are taking their pills) so hair levels provide a novel and reliable indicator of adherence.

A third setting is for monitoring prenatal exposures. Hair sampling is the only way currently to measure how much antiretroviral exposure fetuses are getting in t
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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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Hair samples from infants show exposure to anti-HIV drugs in the womb and during breast-feeding
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