, Volume 25, Issue 14, pp 973-991
Date: 21 Nov 2012

Tolerabilities of Antiretrovirals in Paediatric HIV Infection

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Data on the efficacy and tolerability of antiretrovirals in children are limited as, in contrast to adult studies, large paediatric cohort studies are lacking. Thus, data pertaining to adults are often extrapolated to children despite the acknowledgement that children are not little adults. This review summarises information gathered from existing reports and focuses on the tolerabilities of antiretrovirals in children infected with HIV-1. The efficacy of antiretrovirals is not included in the scope of the discussion.

Taste of antiretrovirals should be an important factor when considering the tolerability of antiretrovirals in children. However, antiretroviral options are often limited in young children as only some of the antiretrovirals are available as paediatric formulations. All antiretrovirals have been associated with toxicities in children, but in general, they are relatively well tolerated. The gastrointestinal system including hepatic system is most prone to being affected by these drugs. Skin rashes and hypersensitivity reactions are also associated with antiretroviral use, particularly with the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Mitochondrial toxicities that lead to impairment of liver function, pancreatic function and lactic acidosis are associated with most of the nucleoside analogues. Haematological toxicity is often a dose limiting adverse effect especially of the nucleoside analogues, in particular zidovudine. The protease inhibitors are associated with gastrointestinal intolerance (diarrhoea) and metabolic derangements that can lead to hypercholesterolaemia and hypertriglyceridaemia, which in turn and can lead to changes in body habitus. The renal system is also affected by several drugs, the most important of which is indinavir, which has been associated with renal stones and damage to the renal tubules.

Fortunately, with lower incidence of major toxicity and with the range of drugs now available for paediatric use, toxicities are usually not a barrier to effect antiretroviral therapy in children.