Profiling penciclovir susceptibility and prevalence of resistance of herpes simplex virus isolates across eleven clinical trials
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- Sarisky, R., Bacon, T., Boon, R. et al. Arch Virol (2003) 148: 1757. doi:10.1007/s00705-003-0124-7
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A susceptibility testing program was established to determine the prevalence of resistance to penciclovir among herpes simplex virus isolates collected from patients participating in 11 world-wide clinical trials involving penciclovir (topical or intravenous formulations) or famciclovir, the oral prodrug of penciclovir. These trials represented nine randomised double blind, placebo or aciclovir-controlled studies and two open-label studies. Groups surveyed included immunocompetent or immunocompromised patients receiving 2 to 12 months chronic suppressive therapy for genital herpes, immunocompetent patients with recurrent herpes labialis treated for four days, and immunocompromised patients with mucocutaneous herpes simplex virus (HSV). Another subset of patients had been identified as non-responders to aciclovir or to valaciclovir. This program assessed the susceptibility profile for a total of 2145 herpes simplex virus isolates from 913 immunocompetent and 288 immunocompromised patients treated with penciclovir, famciclovir, aciclovir or placebo (depending on trial design). HSV isolates were tested for susceptibility to penciclovir using the plaque reduction assay (PRA) in MRC-5 cells. Resistance was defined as an IC50≥2.0 µg/ml or an IC50> 10-fold above the wild type control virus IC50 within that particular assay. Penciclovir-resistant HSV was isolated from 0.22% immunocompetent patients, and 2.1% of immunocompromised patients overall and therefore the frequency of penciclovir-resistant herpes simplex virus in the immunocompetent population approximates that of aciclovir-resistant herpesvirus reported previously. Penciclovir-resistant HSV isolates were more common in isolates from immunocompromised patients, consistent with aciclovir clinical experience. Treatment with penciclovir (intravenous formulation) was associated with the development of resistant HSV in only one severely immunocompromised patient (day 7 isolate IC50 = 2.01 µg/ml), although treatment was effective and resulted in the complete clearance of the lesion by day 8. No patients receiving topical penciclovir developed treatment-associated penciclovir-resistant HSV, and a single immunocompromised patient developed resistant HSV upon treatment with oral famiciclovir.