Pharmacokinetics-pharmacodynamics of sertraline as an antifungal in HIV-infected Ugandans with cryptococcal meningitis

ASTRO-CM Study Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The ASTRO-CM dose-finding pilot study investigated the role of adjunctive sertraline for the treatment of HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis in HIV-infected Ugandan patients. The present study is a post hoc pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic analysis of the ASTRO-CM pilot study to provide insight into sertraline exposure–response–outcome relationships. We performed a population pharmacokinetic analysis using sertraline plasma concentration data and correlated various predicted PK-PD indices with the percentage change in log10 CFU/mL from baseline. Sertraline clearance was 1.95-fold higher in patients receiving antiretroviral (ART), resulting in 49% lower drug exposure. To quantify the clinical benefit of sertraline, we estimated rates of fungal clearance from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of ASTRO-CM patients using Poisson model and compared the clearance rates to a historical control study (COAT) in which patients received standard Cryptococcus therapy of amphotericin B (0.7–1.0 mg/kg per day) and fluconazole (800 mg/day) without sertraline. Adjunctive sertraline significantly increased CSF fungal clearance rate compared to COAT trial and sertraline effect was dose-independent with no covariate found to affect fungal clearance including ART. Study findings suggest sertraline response could be mediated by different mechanisms than directly inhibiting the initiation of protein translation as previously suggested; this is supported by the prediction of unbound sertraline concentrations is unlikely to reach MIC concentrations in the brain. Study findings also recommend against the use of higher doses of sertraline, especially those greater than the maximum FDA-approved daily dose (200 mg/day), since they unlikely provide any additional benefits and come with greater costs and risk of adverse events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-576
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Fungal clearance
  • HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis
  • Pharmacodynamics
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Sertraline
  • Survival

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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