In vitro assessment of the potential for dolutegravir to affect hepatic clearance of levonorgestrel

Owain Roberts, Hannah Kinvig, Andrew Owen, Mohammed Lamorde, Marco Siccardi, Kimberly K. Scarsi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The World Health Organization recommends that all countries adopt dolutegravir-based antiretroviral therapy as the preferred regimen for all individuals living with HIV. Levonorgestrel is a commonly used hormonal contraceptive, which undergoes drug–drug interactions with some antiretrovirals, but the potential interaction between dolutegravir and levonorgestrel has not been examined. We aimed to evaluate cytochrome P450 (CYP)-mediated levonorgestrel metabolism and quantify the effects of dolutegravir on levonorgestrel apparent intrinsic clearance ( and CYP gene expression. Methods: In vitro CYP-mediated of levonorgestrel was quantified using a recombinant human CYP (rhCYP) enzyme system. A primary human hepatocyte model of drug metabolism was used to assess the effects of dolutegravir on (1) levonorgestrel, using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, and (2) the expression of specific CYP enzymes, using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Results: Levonorgestrel clearance was mediated by multiple rhCYPs, including rhCYP3A4. Under control conditions, levonorgestrel was 22.4 ± 5.0 μL/min/106 hepatocytes. Incubation with 43.1 nM of unbound dolutegravir elevated levonorgestrel to 31.4 ± 7.8 µL/min/106 hepatocytes (P = 0.168), while 142.23 nM increased levonorgestrel to 37.0 ± 2.9 µL/min/106 hepatocytes (P = 0.012). Unbound dolutegravir ≥ 431 nM induced expression of CYP3A4 (≥ two-fold) in a dose-dependent manner, while 1.44 μM of unbound dolutegravir induced CYP2B6 expression 2.2 ± 0.3-fold (P = 0.0004). Conclusions: In summary, this in vitro study suggests that dolutegravir has the potential to increase hepatic clearance of levonorgestrel by inducing both CYP3A and non-CYP3A enzymes. The observed in vitro dolutegravir–levonorgestrel drug–drug interaction should be further examined in clinical studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)898-906
Number of pages9
JournalHIV Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • DMPK
  • contraceptives
  • drug–drug interactions
  • pharmacokinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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