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Original article

HIV type-1 drug resistance testing on dried blood spots is feasible and reliable in patients who fail antiretroviral therapy in rural Tanzania

Asgeir Johannessen, Mona Holberg-Petersen, Gunilla Lövgaarden, Ezra Naman, Vidar Ormaasen, Mecky I Matee, Svein G Gundersen, Johan N Bruun

Corresponding author name: Asgeir Johannessen
Corresponding author e-mail: asgeir.johannessen@medisin.uio.no

Citation: Antiviral Therapy 2010; 15:1003-1009
doi: 10.3851/IMP1660

Date accepted: 02 May 2010
Date published online: 15 September 2010


Background: HIV type-1 (HIV-1) drug resistance testing is rarely available in resource-limited settings because of high costs and stringent requirements for storage and transport of plasma. Dried blood spots (DBS) can be a convenient alternative to plasma, but the use of DBS needs validation under field conditions. We assessed the performance of DBS in genotypic resistance testing of patients who failed first-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) in rural Tanzania.

Methods: A total of 36 ART-experienced patients with viral loads >1,000 copies/ml (median 15,180 copies/ml [range 1,350–3,683,000]) and with various HIV-1 subtypes were selected for resistance testing. DBS were stored with desiccant at ambient temperature for a median of 29 days (range 8–89). Samples were amplified using an in-house reverse transcriptase-nested PCR method and sequenced using the ViroSeq™ assay (Abbott Molecular, Des Plaines, IL, USA). DBS-derived genotypes were compared with genotypes from plasma.

Results: Overall, 34 of 36 (94%) DBS specimens were successfully genotyped. In the protease region, of 142 polymorphisms found in plasma, 132 (93%) were also detected in DBS. In the reverse transcriptase region, of 57 clinically relevant mutations present in plasma, 51 (89%) were also detected in DBS. A total of 30 of 34 (88%) patients had identical resistance profiles to antiretroviral drugs in plasma and DBS.

Conclusions: Genotyping was successful in the vast majority of DBS specimens stored at ambient temperature for up to 3 months, and there was high concordance between mutations found in DBS and plasma. Our study suggests that DBS can be a feasible and reliable tool to monitor HIV-1 drug resistance in patients on ART in resource-limited settings.


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