The antiretroviral drug efavirenz (EFV) is extensively metabolized into three primary metabolites: 8-hydroxy-EFV, 7-hydroxy-EFV and N-glucuronide-EFV. There is a wide interindividual variability in EFV plasma exposure, explained to a great extent by cytochrome P450 2B6 (CYP2B6), the main isoenzyme responsible for EFV metabolism and involved in the major metabolic pathway (8-hydroxylation) and to a lesser extent in 7-hydroxylation. When CYP2B6 function is impaired, the relevance of CYP2A6, the main isoenzyme responsible for 7-hydroxylation may increase. We hypothesize that genetic variability in this gene may contribute to the particularly high, unexplained variability in EFV exposure in individuals with limited CYP2B6 function.
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