An ultrasensitive assay utilizing high-pressure liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry detection was developed and validated for the quantification of the antiretrovirals atazanavir (ATV), darunavir (DRV), lopinavir (LPV), ritonavir (RTV), and efavirenz (EFV) in human mononuclear cell (MNC) extracts. The assay utilizes 20 μl of cellular extract that contains as few as 50,000 MNCs. The analytical range of the assay is 0.0200 to 10.0 fmol/μl for ATV, 0.0500 to 25.0 fmol/μl for DRV, LPV, and RTV, and 0.200 to 100 fmol/μl for EFV. The assay has proven to be a clinically useful tool for investigating antiretroviral drug concentrations in virologic sanctuaries where harvested cell numbers are extremely low. The assay provides a tool for investigators to explore the clinical pharmacology of strategies for prevention, treatment, and cure in pathophysiologically relevant sites.
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