Mechanism of Action
Lamivudine is a synthetic nucleoside analogue. Intracellularly, lamivudine is phosphorylated to its active 5′-triphosphate metabolite, lamivudine triphosphate (3TC-TP). The principal mode of action of 3TC-TP is inhibition of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) via DNA chain termination after incorporation of the nucleotide analogue.
The antiviral activity of lamivudine against HIV-1 was assessed in a number of cell lines including monocytes and fresh human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBMCs) using standard susceptibility assays. EC 50 values were in the range of 0.003 to 15 microM (1 microM = 0.23 mcg per mL). The median EC 50 values of lamivudine were 60 nM (range: 20 to 70 nM), 35 nM (range: 30 to 40 nM), 30 nM (range: 20 to 90 nM), 20 nM (range: 3 to 40 nM), 30 nM (range: 1 to 60 nM), 30 nM (range: 20 to 70 nM), 30 nM (range: 3 to 70 nM), and 30 nM (range: 20 to 90 nM) against HIV-1 clades A-G and group O viruses (n = 3 except n = 2 for clade B) respectively. The EC 50 values against HIV-2 isolates (n = 4) ranged from 0.003 to 0.120 microM in PBMCs. Lamivudine was not antagonistic to all tested anti-HIV agents. Ribavirin (50 microM) used in the treatment of chronic HCV infection decreased the anti-HIV-1 activity of lamivudine by 3.5-fold in MT-4 cells.
Lamivudine-resistant variants of HIV-1 have been selected in cell culture. Genotypic analysis showed that the resistance was due to a specific amino acid substitution in the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase at codon 184 changing the methionine to either valine or isoleucine (M184V/I).
HIV-1 strains resistant to both lamivudine and zidovudine have been isolated from subjects. Susceptibility of clinical isolates to lamivudine and zidovudine was monitored in controlled clinical trials. In subjects receiving lamivudine monotherapy or combination therapy with lamivudine plus zidovudine, HIV-1 isolates from most subjects became phenotypically and genotypically resistant to lamivudine within 12 weeks.
Genotypic and Phenotypic Analysis of On-Therapy HIV-1 Isolates from Subjects with Virologic Failure
Trial EPV20001: Fifty-three of 554 (10%) subjects enrolled in EPV20001 were identified as virological failures (plasma HIV-1 RNA level greater than or equal to 400 copies per mL) by Week 48. Twenty-eight subjects were randomized to the lamivudine once-daily treatment group and 25 to the lamivudine twice-daily treatment group. The median baseline plasma HIV-1 RNA levels of subjects in the lamivudine once-daily group and lamivudine twice-daily group were 4.9 log 10 copies per mL and 4.6 log 10 copies per mL, respectively.
Genotypic analysis of on-therapy isolates from 22 subjects identified as virologic failures in the lamivudine once-daily group showed that isolates from 8 of 22 subjects contained a treatment-emergent lamivudine resistance-associated substitution (M184V or M184I), isolates from 0 of 22 subjects contained treatment-emergent amino acid substitutions associated with zidovudine resistance (M41L, D67N, K70R, L210W, T215Y/F, or K219Q/E), and isolates from 10 of 22 subjects contained treatment-emergent amino acid substitutions associated with efavirenz resistance (L100I, K101E, K103N, V108I, or Y181C).
Genotypic analysis of on-therapy isolates from subjects (n = 22) in the lamivudine twice-daily treatment group showed that isolates from 5 of 22 subjects contained treatment-emergent lamivudine resistance substitutions, isolates from 1 of 22 subjects contained treatment-emergent zidovudine resistance substitutions, and isolates from 7 of 22 subjects contained treatment-emergent efavirenz resistance substitutions.
Phenotypic analysis of baseline-matched on-therapy HIV-1 isolates from subjects (n = 13) receiving lamivudine once daily showed that isolates from 7 of 13 subjects showed an 85- to 299-fold decrease in susceptibility to lamivudine, isolates from 12 of 13 subjects were susceptible to zidovudine, and isolates from 8 of 13 subjects exhibited a 25- to 295-fold decrease in susceptibility to efavirenz.
Phenotypic analysis of baseline-matched on-therapy HIV-1 isolates from subjects (n = 13) receiving lamivudine twice daily showed that isolates from 4 of 13 subjects exhibited a 29- to 159-fold decrease in susceptibility to lamivudine, isolates from all 13 subjects were susceptible to zidovudine, and isolates from 3 of 13 subjects exhibited a 21- to 342-fold decrease in susceptibility to efavirenz.
Trial EPV40001: Fifty subjects received lamivudine 300 mg once daily plus zidovudine 300 mg twice daily plus abacavir 300 mg twice daily and 50 subjects received lamivudine 150 mg plus zidovudine 300 mg plus abacavir 300 mg all twice-daily. The median baseline plasma HIV-1 RNA levels for subjects in the 2 groups were 4.79 log 10 copies per mL and 4.83 log 10 copies per mL, respectively. Fourteen of 50 subjects in the lamivudine once-daily treatment group and 9 of 50 subjects in the lamivudine twice-daily group were identified as virologic failures.
Genotypic analysis of on-therapy HIV-1 isolates from subjects (n = 9) in the lamivudine once-daily treatment group showed that isolates from 6 subjects had an abacavir and/or lamivudine resistance-associated substitution M184V alone. On-therapy isolates from subjects (n = 6) receiving lamivudine twice daily showed that isolates from 2 subjects had M184V alone, and isolates from 2 subjects harbored the M184V substitution in combination with zidovudine resistance-associated amino acid substitutions.
Phenotypic analysis of on-therapy isolates from subjects (n = 6) receiving lamivudine once daily showed that HIV-1 isolates from 4 subjects exhibited a 32- to 53-fold decrease in susceptibility to lamivudine. HIV-1 isolates from these 6 subjects were susceptible to zidovudine.
Phenotypic analysis of on-therapy isolates from subjects (n = 4) receiving lamivudine twice daily showed that HIV-1 isolates from 1 subject exhibited a 45-fold decrease in susceptibility to lamivudine and a 4.5-fold decrease in susceptibility to zidovudine.
Pediatrics: Pediatric subjects receiving lamivudine oral solution concomitantly with other antiretroviral oral solutions (abacavir, nevirapine/efavirenz, or zidovudine) in ARROW developed viral resistance more frequently than those receiving tablets. At randomization to once-daily or twice-daily dosing of lamivudine plus abacavir, 13% of subjects who started on tablets and 32% of subjects who started on solution had resistance substitutions. The resistance profile observed in pediatrics is similar to that observed in adults in terms of the genotypic substitutions detected and relative frequency, with the most commonly detected substitutions at M184 (V or I) [see Clinical Studies ( 14.2)].
Cross-resistance has been observed among nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). Lamivudine-resistant HIV-1 mutants were cross-resistant in cell culture to didanosine (ddI). Cross-resistance is also expected with abacavir and emtricitabine as these select M184V substitutions.
Long-term carcinogenicity studies with lamivudine in mice and rats showed no evidence of carcinogenic potential at exposures up to 10 times (mice) and 58 times (rats) the human exposures at the recommended dose of 300 mg.
Lamivudine was mutagenic in an L5178Y mouse lymphoma assay and clastogenic in a cytogenetic assay using cultured human lymphocytes. Lamivudine was not mutagenic in a microbial mutagenicity assay, in an in vitro cell transformation assay, in a rat micronucleus test, in a rat bone marrow cytogenetic assay, and in an assay for unscheduled DNA synthesis in rat liver. Lamivudine showed no evidence of in vivo genotoxic activity in the rat at oral doses of up to 2,000 mg per kg, producing plasma levels of 35 to 45 times those in humans at the recommended dose for HIV-1 infection.
Impairment of Fertility
In a study of reproductive performance, lamivudine administered to rats at doses up to 4,000 mg per kg per day, producing plasma levels 47 to 70 times those in humans, revealed no evidence of impaired fertility and no effect on the survival, growth, and development to weaning of the offspring.
The use of lamivudine is based on the results of clinical trials in HIV-1-infected subjects in combination regimens with other antiretroviral agents. Information from trials with clinical endpoints or a combination of CD4+ cell counts and HIV-1 RNA measurements is included below as documentation of the contribution of lamivudine to a combination regimen in controlled trials.
Clinical Endpoint Trial NUCB3007 (CAESAR) was a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial comparing continued current therapy (zidovudine alone [62% of subjects] or zidovudine with didanosine or zalcitabine [38% of subjects]) to the addition of lamivudine or lamivudine plus an investigational non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI), randomized 1:2:1. A total of 1,816 HIV-1-infected adults with 25 to 250 CD4+ cells per mm 3 (median = 122 cells per mm 3) at baseline were enrolled: median age was 36 years, 87% were male, 84% were nucleoside-experienced, and 16% were therapy-naive. The median duration on trial was 12 months. Results are summarized in Table 9.
Current Therapy (n = 460)
Lamivudine plus Current Therapy (n = 896)
Lamivudine plus an NNRTI * plus Current Therapy (n = 460)
HIV-1 progression or death
Surrogate Endpoint TrialsDual Nucleoside Analogue Trials: Principal clinical trials in the initial development of lamivudine compared lamivudine/ zidovudine combinations with zidovudine monotherapy or with zidovudine plus zalcitabine. These trials demonstrated the antiviral effect of lamivudine in a 2-drug combination. More recent uses of lamivudine in treatment of HIV-1 infection incorporate it into multiple-drug regimens containing at least 3 antiretroviral drugs for enhanced viral suppression.
Dose Regimen Comparison Surrogate Endpoint Trials in Therapy-Naive Adults: EPV20001 was a multicenter, double-blind, controlled trial in which subjects were randomized 1:1 to receive lamivudine 300 mg once daily or lamivudine 150 mg twice daily, in combination with zidovudine 300 mg twice daily and efavirenz 600 mg once daily. A total of 554 antiretroviral treatment-naive HIV-1-infected adults enrolled: male (79%), white (50%), median age of 35 years, baseline CD4+ cell counts of 69 to 1,089 cells per mm 3 (median = 362 cells per mm 3), and median baseline plasma HIV-1 RNA of 4.66 log 10 copies per mL. Outcomes of treatment through 48 weeks are summarized in Figure 1 and Table 10.
Lamivudine 300 mg Once Daily plus RETROVIR plus Efavirenz (n = 278)
Lamivudine 150 mg Twice Daily plus RETROVIR plus Efavirenz (n = 276)
Virologic failure †
Discontinued due to clinical progression
Discontinued due to adverse events
Discontinued due to other reasons ‡
The proportions of subjects with HIV-1 RNA less than 50 copies per mL (via Roche Ultrasensitive assay) through Week 48 were 61% for subjects receiving lamivudine 300 mg once daily and 63% for subjects receiving lamivudine 150 mg twice daily. Median increases in CD4+ cell counts were 144 cells per mm 3 at Week 48 in subjects receiving lamivudine 300 mg once daily and 146 cells per mm 3 for subjects receiving lamivudine 150 mg twice daily.
A small, randomized, open-label pilot trial, EPV40001, was conducted in Thailand. A total of 159 treatment-naive adult subjects (male 32%, Asian 100%, median age 30 years, baseline median CD4+ cell count 380 cells per mm 3 , median plasma HIV-1 RNA 4.8 log 10 copies per mL) were enrolled. Two of the treatment arms in this trial provided a comparison between lamivudine 300 mg once daily (n = 54) and lamivudine 150 mg twice daily (n = 52), each in combination with zidovudine 300 mg twice daily and abacavir 300 mg twice daily. In intent-to-treat analyses of 48-week data, the proportions of subjects with HIV-1 RNA below 400 copies per mL were 61% (33 of 54) in the group randomized to once-daily lamivudine and 75% (39 of 52) in the group randomized to receive all 3 drugs twice daily; the proportions with HIV-1 RNA below 50 copies per mL were 54% (29 of 54) in the once-daily lamivudine group and 67% (35 of 52) in the all-twice-daily group; and the median increases in CD4+ cell counts were 166 cells per mm 3 in the once-daily lamivudine group and 216 cells per mm 3 in the all-twice-daily group.
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