Previous research on the use of personal lubricants for sexual intercourse is limited and has primarily focused on condom compatibility and breakage, with only recent limited assessment of lubricant safety and possible epidemiologic implications. This article discusses the global evidence of lubricant compatibility with latex condoms and biological safety of lubricants, as well as documentation of lubricant use and current guidelines for HIV prevention programming in Africa. Data on lubricant compatibility with condoms are less available than commonly realized, and many lubricant products may not have been thoroughly tested for safety due to flexible regulatory environments. Recent laboratory and study findings from microbicides research also suggest that some water-based lubricants may have safety issues. Some African populations are using several types of lubricants, especially oil-based petroleum jellies, and receive little evidence-based guidance. More research is needed from the medical community to guide prevention programming.
lubricants; condoms; HIV prevention; Africa
Over-the-counter personal lubricants are used frequently during vaginal and anal intercourse, but they have not been extensively tested for biological effects that might influence HIV transmission. We evaluated the in vitro toxicity anti-HIV-1 activity and osmolality of popular lubricants. A total of 41 lubricants were examined and compared to Gynol II and Carraguard as positive and negative controls for toxicity, respectively. Cytotoxicity was assessed using the XTT assay. The MAGI assay with R5 and X4 HIV-1 laboratory strains was used to evaluate antiviral activity. The effect of the lubricants on differentiated Caco-2 cell monolayers (transepithelial electrical resistance, TEER) was also measured. None of the lubricants tested showed significant activity against HIV-1. Surprisingly, four of them, Astroglide Liquid, Astroglide Warming Liquid, Astroglide Glycerin & Paraben-Free Liquid, and Astroglide Silken Secret, significantly enhanced HIV-1 replication (p<0.0001). A common ingredient in three of these preparations is polyquaternium-15. In vitro testing of a chemically related compound (MADQUAT) confirmed that this similarly augmented HIV-1 replication. Most of the lubricants were found to be hyperosmolar and the TEER value dropped approximately 60% 2 h after exposure to all lubricants tested. Cells treated with Carraguard, saline, and cell controls maintained about 100% initial TEER value after 2–6 h. We have identified four lubricants that significantly increase HIV-1 replication in vitro. In addition, the epithelial damage caused by these and many other lubricants may have implications for enhancing HIV transmission in vivo. These data emphasize the importance of performing more rigorous safety testing on these products.
Over-the-counter (OTC) feminine hygiene products come with little warning about possible side effects. This study evaluates in-vitro their effects on Lactobacillus crispatus, which is dominant in the normal vaginal microbiota and helps maintain a healthy mucosal barrier essential for normal reproductive function and prevention of sexually transmitted infections and gynecologic cancer.
A feminine moisturizer (Vagisil), personal lubricant, and douche were purchased OTC. A topical spermicide (nonoxynol-9) known to alter the vaginal immune barrier was used as a control. L. crispatus was incubated with each product for 2 and 24h and then seeded on agar for colony forming units (CFU). Human vaginal epithelial cells were exposed to products in the presence or absence of L. crispatus for 24h, followed by epithelium-associated CFU enumeration. Interleukin-8 was immunoassayed and ANOVA was used for statistical evaluation.
Nonoxynol-9 and Vagisil suppressed Lactobacillus growth at 2h and killed all bacteria at 24h. The lubricant decreased bacterial growth insignificantly at 2h but killed all at 24h. The douche did not have a significant effect. At full strength, all products suppressed epithelial viability and all, except the douche, suppressed epithelial-associated CFU. When applied at non-toxic dose in the absence of bacteria, the douche and moisturizer induced an increase of IL-8, suggesting a potential to initiate inflammatory reaction. In the presence of L. crispatus, the proinflammatory effects of the douche and moisturizer were countered, and IL-8 production was inhibited in the presence of the other products.
Some OTC vaginal products may be harmful to L. crispatus and alter the vaginal immune environment. Illustrated through these results, L. crispatus is essential in the preservation of the function of vaginal epithelial cells in the presence of some feminine hygiene products. More research should be invested toward these products before they are placed on the market.
Lactobacillus; L. crispatus; cytokines; Interleukin-8; Nonoxynol-9; vaginal microbiota; vaginal epithelial colonization; mucosal immunity
The objective of this study is to identify the critical formulation parameters controlling distribution and function for the rectal administration of microbicides in humans. Four placebo formulations were designed with a wide range of hydrophilic characteristics (aqueous to lipid) and rheological properties (Newtonian, shear thinning, thermal sensitive and thixotropic). Aqueous formulations using typical polymers to control viscosity were iso-osmotic and buffered to pH 7. Lipid formulations were developed from lipid solvent/lipid gelling agent binary mixtures. Testing included pharmaceutical function and stability as well as in vitro and in vivo toxicity.
The aqueous fluid placebo, based on poloxamer, was fluid at room temperature, thickened and became shear thinning at 37°C. The aqueous gel placebo used carbopol as the gelling agent, was shear thinning at room temperature and showed a typical decrease in viscosity with an increase in temperature. The lipid fluid placebo, myristyl myristate in isopropyl myristate, was relatively thin and temperature independent. The lipid gel placebo, glyceryl stearate and PEG-75 stearate in caprylic/capric triglycerides, was also shear thinning at both room temperature and 37°C but with significant time dependency or thixotropy. All formulations showed no rectal irritation in rabbits and were non-toxic using an ex vivo rectal explant model.
Four placebo formulations ranging from fluid to gel in aqueous and lipid formats with a range of rheological properties were developed, tested, scaled-up, manufactured under cGMP conditions and enrolled in a formal stability program. Clinical testing of these formulations as placebos will serve as the basis for further microbicide formulation development with drug-containing products.
Aqueous semi-solid polymeric gels, such as those based on hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC) and polyacrylic acid (e.g. Carbopol®), have a long history of use in vaginal drug delivery. However, despite their ubiquity, they often provide sub-optimal clinical performance, due to poor mucosal retention and limited solubility for poorly water-soluble actives. These issues are particularly pertinent for vaginal HIV microbicides, since many lead candidates are poorly water-soluble and where a major goal is the development of a coitally independent, once daily gel product. In this study, we report the use of a non-aqueous silicone elastomer gel for vaginal delivery of the HIV-1 entry inhibitor maraviroc. In vitro rheological, syringeability and retention studies demonstrated enhanced performance for silicone gels compared with a conventional aqueous HEC gel, while testing of the gels in the slug model confirmed a lack of mucosal irritancy. Pharmacokinetic studies following single dose vaginal administration of a maraviroc silicone gel in rhesus macaques showed higher and sustained MVC levels in vaginal fluid, vaginal tissue and plasma compared with a HEC gel containing the same maraviroc loading. The results demonstrate that non-aqueous silicone gels have potential as a formulation platform for coitally independent vaginal HIV microbicides.
Vaginal HIV microbicide; Silicone elastomer gel; Sustained release; Macaque pharmacokinetics; Slug mucosal irritation; Rheology
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, commonly referred to as dry eye or KCS, can affect both humans and dogs. The standard of care in treating KCS typically includes daily administration of eye drops to either stimulate tear production or to hydrate and lubricate the corneal surface. Lubricating eye drops are often applied four to six times daily for the life of the patient. In order to reduce this dosing regimen yet still provides sufficient hydration and lubrication, we have developed a crosslinked hydrogel based on a modified, thiolated hyaluronic acid (HA), xCMHA-S. This xCMHA-S gel was found to have different viscosity and rheologic behavior than solutions of noncrosslinked HA. The gel was also able to increase tear breakup time in rabbits, indicating a stabilization of the tear film. Further, in a preliminary clinical study of dogs with KCS, the gel significantly reduced the symptoms associated with KCS within two weeks while only being applied twice daily. The reduction of symptoms combined with the low dosing regimen indicates that this gel may lead to both improved patient health and owner compliance in applying the treatment.
Tenofovir gel has entered into clinical trials for use as a topical microbicide to prevent HIV-1 infection but has no published data regarding pre-clinical testing using in vitro and ex vivo models. To validate our findings with on-going clinical trial results, we evaluated topical tenofovir gel for safety and efficacy. We also modeled systemic application of tenofovir for efficacy.
Methods and Findings
Formulation assessment of tenofovir gel included osmolality, viscosity, in vitro release, and permeability testing. Safety was evaluated by measuring the effect on the viability of vaginal flora, PBMCs, epithelial cells, and ectocervical and colorectal explant tissues. For efficacy testing, PBMCs were cultured with tenofovir or vehicle control gels and HIV-1 representing subtypes A, B, and C. Additionally, polarized ectocervical and colorectal explant cultures were treated apically with either gel. Tenofovir was added basolaterally to simulate systemic application. All tissues were challenged with HIV-1 applied apically. Infection was assessed by measuring p24 by ELISA on collected supernatants and immunohistochemistry for ectocervical explants. Formulation testing showed the tenofovir and vehicle control gels were >10 times isosmolar. Permeability through ectocervical tissue was variable but in all cases the receptor compartment drug concentration reached levels that inhibit HIV-1 infection in vitro. The gels were non-toxic toward vaginal flora, PBMCs, or epithelial cells. A transient reduction in epithelial monolayer integrity and epithelial fracture for ectocervical and colorectal explants was noted and likely due to the hyperosmolar nature of the formulation. Tenofovir gel prevented HIV-1 infection of PBMCs regardless of HIV-1 subtype. Topical and systemic tenofovir were effective at preventing HIV-1 infection of explant cultures.
These studies provide a mechanism for pre-clinical prediction of safety and efficacy of formulated microbicides. Tenofovir was effective against HIV-1 infection in our algorithm. These data support the use of tenofovir for pre-exposure prophylaxis.
To compare contraceptive efficacy, safety, and acceptability of C31G and nonoxynol-9 spermicidal gels.
We conducted a multicenter, randomized, double-masked, controlled trial to assess whether a gel containing the spermicide C31G was non-inferior to a commercially available product containing nonoxynol-9. Participants were healthy, sexually active females ages 18–40 years. Measured outcomes included pregnancy rates, continuation rates, adverse events, and acceptability. Sample size was calculated at a 2.5% significance level using a one-sided test, based on assumed 6-month pregnancy probability of 15% in the Conceptrol group. Sample size was sufficient to reject, with 80% power, the null hypothesis that pregnancy probability in the C31G arm would be more than 5% higher.
Nine-hundred thirty-two women were randomized in the C31G group and 633 in the nonoxynol-9 group. For randomized subjects with at least one episode of coitus (modified intent-to-treat group), six-month pregnancy probabilities were 12.0% (95% confidence interval (CI) 9.3–14.7%) and 12.0% (95%CI 8.7–15.3%) for C31G and nonoxynol-9 respectively. Twelve-month pregnancy probabilities were 13.8% (95%CI 7.6–20%) for C31G and 19.8% (95%CI 10.9–28.7%) for nonoxynol-9. Two serious adverse events were deemed possibly related to study product, and neither occurred the C31G group. Three-fourths of users in either group reported that they liked their assigned study product. Approximately 40% of subjects discontinued prematurely for reasons other than pregnancy, with 11% lost to follow-up.
C31G demonstrated noninferior contraceptive efficacy compared to nonoxynol-9. Both products were safe and acceptable. C31G may provide another marketable option for women seeking spermicidal contraception.
Previous in vitro studies have demonstrated that polyvinylpyrrolidone coated silver nanoparticles (PVP-coated AgNPs) have antiviral activity against HIV-1 at non-cytotoxic concentrations. These particles also demonstrate broad spectrum virucidal activity by preventing the interaction of HIV-1 gp120 and cellular CD4, thereby inhibiting fusion or entry of the virus into the host cell. In this study, we evaluated the antiviral activity of PVP-coated AgNPs as a potential topical vaginal microbicide to prevent transmission of HIV-1 infection using human cervical culture, an in vitro model that simulates in vivo conditions.
When formulated into a non-spermicidal gel (Replens) at a concentration of 0.15 mg/mL, PVP-coated AgNPs prevented the transmission of cell-associated HIV-1 and cell-free HIV-1 isolates. Importantly, PVP-coated AgNPs were not toxic to the explant, even when the cervical tissues were exposed continuously to 0.15 mg/mL of PVP-coated AgNPs for 48 h. Only 1 min of PVP-coated AgNPs pretreatment to the explant was required to prevent transmission of HIV-1. Pre-treatment of the cervical explant with 0.15 mg/mL PVP-coated AgNPs for 20 min followed by extensive washing prevented the transmission of HIV-1 in this model for 48 h.
A formulation of PVP-coated AgNPs homogenized in Replens gel acts rapidly to inhibit HIV-1 transmission after 1 min and offers long-lasting protection of the cervical tissue from infection for 48 h, with no evidence of cytotoxicity observed in the explants.
Based on this data, PVP-coated AgNPs are a promising microbicidal candidate for use in topical vaginal/cervical agents to prevent HIV-1 transmission, and further research is warranted.
We evaluated the effectiveness of the Ortho All-Flex Diaphragm, lubricant gel (Replens®) and condoms compared to condoms alone on the incidence of chlamydial and gonococcal infections in an open-label randomized controlled trial among women at risk of HIV/STI infections.
We randomized 5045 sexually-active women at three sites in Southern Africa. Participants who tested positive for curable STIs were treated prior to enrollment as per local guidelines. Women were followed quarterly and tested for Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) or Neisseria gonorrhoeae (GC) infection by nucleic-acid amplification testing (Roche Amplicor®) using first-catch urine specimens. STIs detected at follow-up visits were treated. We compared the incidence of first infection after randomization between study arms in both intent-to-treat (ITT) and per-protocol populations.
Baseline demographic, behavioral and clinical characteristics were balanced across study arms. Nearly 80% of participants were under 35 years of age. Median follow-up time was 21 months and the retention rate was over 93%. There were 471 first chlamydia infections, 247 in the intervention arm and 224 in the control arm with an overall incidence of 6.2/100 woman-years (wy) (relative hazard (RH) 1.11, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.93–1.33; p = 0.25) and 192 first gonococcal infections, 95 in the intervention arm and 97 in the control arm with an overall incidence of 2.4/100wy (RH 0.98, 95%CI: 0.74–1.30; p = 0.90). Per protocol results indicated that when diaphragm adherence was defined as “always use” since the last visit, there was a significant reduction in the incidence of GC infection among women randomized to the intervention arm (RH 0.61, 95%CI: 0.41–0.91, P = 0.02).
There was no difference by study arm in the rate of acquisition of CT or GC. However, our per-protocol results suggest that consistent use of the diaphragm may reduce acquisition of GC.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00121459 [NCT00121459]
Five preparations used as analgesics or lubricants in surgical, obstetrical, gynecological, and investigative procedures were tested for their effect on the isolation of Chlamydia trachomatis. Three lignocaine preparations and a lubricating jelly containing 2% phenol were inhibitory to chlamydiae. In contrast, K-Y lubricating jelly was relatively nontoxic to chlamydiae. Since K-Y jelly also had only slight toxic activity against gonococci, it is recommended for the lubrication of instruments which need to be used for the efficient isolation of these microorganisms.
OBJECTIVE: We tested the effect of nonoxynol-9 (N-9) in condom lubrication on the risk of acquiring STD and genital discomfort. METHODS: The study was a triple masked, randomised controlled trial comparing N-9 lubricated condoms with plain silicone lubricated condoms among Dominican female sex workers. RESULTS: Randomisation provided two groups (313 for N-9 and 322 for plain) similar in baseline characteristics, but extensive loss to follow up occurred (56 women in each group completed the 24 week follow up). Most vaginal acts with clients were protected with condoms (99% of vaginal sex) but fewer acts with non-clients were protected (43% of vaginal sex). No significant differences occurred in rates of cervical infections (N-9 = 3.4 per 100 person months v plain = 2.8), trichomoniasis (N-9 = 2.8 v plain = 3.6), or discomfort rates (N-9 = 0.82 v plain = 0.92). CONCLUSIONS: Plain silicone lubricated condoms are as effective as N-9 lubricated condoms, cost less, have longer expected shelf life, and therefore may be the better condom to provide.
Background—The frequency with which non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) increase small intestinal permeability and cause inflammation is uncertain.
Aims—To examine small intestinal permeability and
inflammation in a large number of patients on long term NSAIDs.
Methods—Sixty eight patients receiving six
different NSAIDs for over six months underwent combined
absorption-permeability tests at three different test dose osmolarities
(iso-, hypo-, and hyperosmolar). Two hundred and eighty six patients on
12 different NSAIDs underwent indium-111 white cell faecal excretion
studies to assess the prevalence and severity of intestinal inflammation.
Results—The iso- and hyperosmolar tests
showed significant malabsorption of
3-0-methyl-D-glucose, D-xylose, and
L-rhamnose. Intestinal permeability changes were
significantly more pronounced and frequent with the hypo- and
hyperosmolar as opposed to the iso-osmolar test. Sequential studies
showed that four and nine patients (of 13) developed inflammation after
three and six months treatment with NSAIDs, respectively. There was
no significant difference (p>0.1) in the prevalence (54-72%) or
severity of intestinal inflammation in the 286 patients taking the
various NSAIDs apart from those on aspirin and nabumetone, these having
no evidence of intestinal inflammation. There was no significant
correlation between the inflammatory changes and age, sex, dose of
NSAID, length of disease, or NSAID ingestion.
Conclusions—Intestinal permeability test dose
composition is an important factor when assessing the effects of NSAIDs
on intestinal integrity. All the conventional NSAIDs studied were
equally associated with small intestinal inflammation apart from
aspirin and nabumetone which seem to spare the small bowel.
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug; intestinal
permeability; intestinal inflammation; aspirin; nabumetone
Menstrual cups have been available for decades, but their use is limited by bulky design and the need for multiple sizes. The Softcup® (Instead, Inc., San Diego, CA) is a simple single-size disposable over-the-counter (OTC) menstrual cup that compresses to tampon shape to facilitate insertion and can be worn during coitus. This report describes preclinical evaluation, clinical testing, and postmarketing monitoring of the Softcup.
Preclinical testing complied with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines and used standard United States Pharmacopoeia methodologies for assessment of potential toxicity. Clinical testing enrolled 406 women in seven U.S. centers. A detailed written questionnaire assessed safety, acceptability, and effectiveness for menstrual collection. Study safety parameters included pelvic examinations, Pap smears, colposcopy, urinalysis, vaginal pH, wet mounts, gram stain, and vaginal microflora cultures. Postmarketing surveillance of over 100 million Softcups has been conducted by the manufacturer and by the FDA Medwatch system.
No toxicity or mutagenicity was observed in preclinical evaluations. In clinical testing, after three cycles of cup use, 37% of subjects rated the cup as better than, 29% as worse than, and 34% as equal to pads or tampons. The cup was preferred for comfort, dryness, and less odor. Cups received lower ratings for disposal and convenience. Eighty-one percent of enrolled women were able to insert and remove their first cup using only written instructions. Use difficulties resulting in study discontinuations included cramping (1%), leakage (1%), and improper fit (3%). No safety parameters were adversely affected. No significant health risks were reported during postmarketing surveillance.
These results demonstrate that a single-size vaginal device has no significant health risks and is acceptable to many women without the need for fitting or other medical services.
HIV continues to be a problem worldwide. Topical vaginal microbicides represent one option being evaluated to stop the spread of HIV. With drug candidates that have a specific action against HIV now being studied, it is important that, when appropriate and based on the mechanism of action, the drug permeates the tissue so that it can be delivered to specific targets which reside there. Novel formulations of the nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor tenofovir (TFV) and the nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor UC781 have been developed and evaluated here. Gels with three distinct rheological properties were prepared. The three gels released both UC781 and TFV under in vitro conditions at concentrations equal to or above the reported 50% effective concentrations (EC50s). The drug concentrations in ectocervical tissues were well in excess of the reported EC50s. The gels maintain ectocervical viability and prevent infection of ectocervical explants after a HIV-1 challenge. This study successfully demonstrates the feasibility of using this novel combination of antiretroviral agents in an aqueous gel as an HIV infection preventative.
Using data from a U.S. clinical safety trial of tenofovir gel, a candidate microbicide, we explored the intersection of sexual pleasure and vaginal lubrication to understand whether and under what circumstances women would use a microbicide gel covertly with primary partners. This study question emerged from acceptability research in diverse settings showing that even though future microbicides are extolled as a disease prevention method that women could use without disclosing to their partners, many women assert they would inform their primary partner. Participants (N = 84), stratified by HIV-status and sexual activity (active vs. abstinent), applied the gel intra-vaginally for 14 days. At completion, quantitative acceptability data were obtained via questionnaire (N = 79) and qualitative data via small group discussions (N = 15 groups, 40 women). Quantitatively, 71% preferred a microbicide that could not be noticed by a sex partner and 86% experienced greater vaginal lubrication during application of the gel. Based on our analysis of the qualitative data, we suggest that women would find it more acceptable to use a microbicide covertly in primary relationships if they believed that the method was truly unnoticeable. Our findings also showed that women’s assessment of the possibility of discreet, if not covert, use was strongly related to their perception of how a microbicide’s added vaginal lubrication would influence their own and their partner’s pleasure, as well as their partner’s experience of his sexual performance. A microbicide that increases pleasure for both partners could potentially be used without engendering opposition from primary partners.
Sexual pleasure; HIV/STI prevention; vaginal Microbicide; pregnancy prevention
Loops of rat jejunum were perfused in vivo for one hour with de Jalon solutions of increasing glucose concentration. The esterolytic activity of the perfusate and of the extracted loop was measured using benzoyl arginine ethyl ester (BAEe) as substrate. The enzymes lactate dehydrogenase, isocitrate dehydrogenase, and acid phosphatase were measured in the perfusate to estimate the degree of cellular damage. There was a significant depletion of kallikrein from the intestine and a raised level in the perfusate during the hyperosmolar perfusions. No significant difference in the kallikrein levels was observed between the normal jejunum and the iso-osmolar perfused jejunum. Prolonged contact with hyperosmolar solutions caused some cellular damage but this effect appeared to be distinct from the release of kallikrein, which occurred very rapidly during the first 20 minutes. These results confirm that hyperosmolar intestinal contents result in the release of kinin-forming proteolytic enzymes into the circulation and suggest that this mechanism is involved in the syndrome of vasomotor dumping after gastric surgery.
The clinical approach to hyponatremia described in this paper involves identification of the hyponatremia as iso-osmolar (factitious), hyperosmolar (mediated by osmotically induced flux of water from cells) or hypo-osmolar. Hypo-osmolar hyponatremia results from decreased renal excretion of dilute urine. This may be caused by renal failure through decreased delivery of filtrate to or function of the ascending limb of the loop of Henle, where dilute urine is made, or through increased water reabsorption in the collecting duct, either independent of antidiuretic hormone or related to a physiologic, drug-induced or pathologic increase in the bioactivity of antidiuretic hormone. The treatment of hyponatremia must be individualized.
Intravaginal insertion is often associated with the concept of ‘dry’ sex. All HIV-prevention microbicides tested to date have been vaginally applied lubricant-based gels. In this paper, we examine whether the use of intravaginal insertions could be in conflict with the introduction of vaginal microbicide gels. The Africa Centre site was part of the Microbicides Development Programme evaluating PRO2000/5 microbicide gel. We conducted in-depth-interviews and focus-group discussions with women enrolled in the trial as well as women and men from the community. The analysis focused on people's knowledge of intravaginal insertion in the community and trial participants’ experience of using trial gels. Intravaginal use of a variety of products was widely acknowledged. We found that the experience of using trial gels - which made sex ‘hot’, ‘tight’ and ‘dry’ - matched the desired outcomes of intravaginal insertion. We found that vaginal ‘dryness’ described the removal of excessive amounts of unusual discharge, rather than the removal of normal vaginal secretions and that intravaginal insertion is not exclusively associated with a desire for ‘dry’ sex. Study findings provide evidence that vaginal microbicide gels may be more acceptable in communities where intravaginal insertion is practiced than was previously thought.
intravaginal insertion; microbicides; KwaZulu-Natal; South Africa
Female-controlled methods of HIV prevention are urgently needed. We assessed the effect of provision of latex diaphragm, lubricant gel, and condoms (intervention), compared with condoms alone (control) on HIV seroincidence in women in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
We did an open-label, randomised controlled trial in HIV-negative, sexually active women recruited from clinics and community-based organisations, who were followed up quarterly for 12–24 months (median 21 months). All participants received an HIV prevention package consisting of pre-test and post-test counselling about HIV and sexually transmitted infections, testing, treatment of curable sexually transmitted infections, and intensive risk-reduction counselling. The primary outcome was incident HIV infection. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00121459.
Overall HIV incidence was 4.0% per 100 woman-years: 4.1% in the intervention group (n=2472) and 3.9% in the control group (n=2476), corresponding to a relative hazard of 1.05 (95% CI 0.84–1.32, intention-to-treat analysis). The proportion of women using condoms was significantly lower in the intervention than in the control group (54% vs 85% of visits, p<0.0001). The proportions of participants who reported adverse events (60%  vs 61% ) and serious adverse events (5%  vs 4% ) were similar between the two groups.
We observed no added protective benefit against HIV infection when the diaphragm and lubricant gel were provided in addition to condoms and a comprehensive HIV prevention package. Our observation that lower condom use in women provided with diaphragms did not result in increased infection merits further research. Although the intervention seemed safe, our findings do not support addition of the diaphragm to current HIV prevention strategies.
Over-the-counter vaginal lubricants have been shown to negatively affect in vitro sperm motility. The objective of this study was to estimate the effect of vaginal lubricant use during procreative intercourse on natural fertility.
Women aged 30–44 years with no history of infertility who had been trying to conceive for less than 3 months completed a baseline questionnaire on vaginal lubricant use. Subsequently, women kept a diary to record menstrual bleeding, intercourse, and vaginal lubricant use and conducted standardized pregnancy testing for up to 6 months. Diary data were used to determine the fertile window and delineate lubricant use during the fertile window. A proportional hazards model was used to estimate fecundability ratios with any lubricant use in the fertile window considered as a time-varying exposure.
Of the 296 participants, 75 (25%) stated in their baseline questionnaire that they use vaginal lubricants while attempting to conceive. Based on daily diary data, 57% of women never used a lubricant, 29% occasionally used a lubricant, and 14% used a lubricant frequently. Women who used lubricants during the fertile window had similar fecundability to those women who did not use lubricants (fecundability ratio 1.05, 95% CI: 0.59, 1.85) after adjusting for age, partner race, and intercourse frequency in the fertile window.
Lubricants are commonly used by couples during procreative intercourse. Lubricant use during procreative intercourse does not appear to reduce the probability of conceiving.
Increasing evidence suggests that tear hyperosmolarity is a central mechanism causing ocular surface inflammation and damage in dry eye disease. Mapracorat (BOL-303242-X) is a novel glucocorticoid receptor agonist currently under clinical evaluation for use in the treatment of dry eye disease. This study assessed the anti-inflammatory effects of mapracorat in an in vitro osmotic stress model which mimics some of the pathophysiological changes seen in dry eye.
Human corneal epithelial cells were cultured in normal osmolar media (317 mOsM) or 440 mOsM hyperosmolar media for 24 h. Luminex technology was used to determine the effect of mapracorat on hyperosmolar-induced cytokine release. Effects of mapracorat on mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation were determined by cell based ELISA. Effects of mapracorat on nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) and activator protein-1 (AP-1) transcriptional activity were assessed by reporter gene assay. Dexamethasone was used as a control.
Hyperosmolar conditions induced release of the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-8 (IL-8), and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) from cultured human corneal epithelial cells, and altered the phosphorylation state of p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and transcriptional activity of NFκB and AP-1. Incubation of cells with mapracorat inhibited hyperosmolar-induced cytokine release with comparable activity and potency as dexamethasone. This inhibition was reversed by the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist mifepristone (RU-486). Increased phosphorylation of p38 and JNK caused by hyperosmolarity was inhibited by mapracorat. Mapracorat also significantly decreased the hyperosmolar-induced increase in NFκB and AP-1 transcriptional activity.
Mapracorat acts as a potent anti-inflammatory agent in corneal epithelial cells challenged with osmotic stress, with comparable activity to the traditional steroid dexamethasone. These in vitro data suggest that mapracorat may be efficacious in the treatment of dry eye disease.
The disappointing clinical failures of five topical vaginal microbicides have provided new insights into factors that impact microbicide safety and efficacy. Specifically, the greater risk for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) acquisition associated with multiple uses of a nonoxynol-9 (N-9)-containing product has highlighted the importance of application frequency as a variable during pre-clinical microbicide development, particularly in animal model studies.
To evaluate an association between application frequency and N-9 toxicity, experiments were performed using a mouse model of cervicovaginal microbicide safety. In this model system, changes in cervical and vaginal epithelial integrity, cytokine release, and immune cell infiltration were assessed after single and multiple exposures to N-9.
After the initial application of N-9 (aqueous, 1%), considerable damage to the cervical epithelium (but not the vaginal epithelium) was observed as early as 10 min post-exposure and up to 8 h post-exposure. Subsequent daily exposures (up to 4 days) were characterized by diminished cervical toxicity relative to single exposures of like duration. Levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines released into the cervicovaginal lumen and the degree of CD14-positive immune cell infiltration proximal to the cervical epithelium were also dependent on the number of N-9 exposures.
Rather than causing cumulative cervical epithelial damage, repeated applications of N-9 were characterized by decreased sensitivity to N-9-associated toxicity and lower levels of immune cell recruitment. These results provide new insights into the failure of N-9-based microbicides and illustrate the importance of considering multiple exposure protocols in pre-clinical microbicide development strategies.
Microbicide; N-9; Cervix; Mouse; Toxicity
Coital use of 1% tenofovir gel was shown to be modestly effective at preventing HIV transmission when applied vaginally in the CAPRISA 004 trial. Because the gel is hyperosmolar, which would reduce the integrity of the epithelium and induce fluid movement into the lumen, rectal use may not be acceptable. This study evaluated the pre-clinical safety and efficacy of a reformulated (reduced osmolality) tenofovir gel product.
Reduced glycerine (RG)-tenofovir gel was compared with the original tenofovir gel for physiochemical characteristics, product safety and anti-HIV-1 activity.
The formulations were similar in all characteristics except for osmolality and spreadability/firmness. The RG-tenofovir gel had a 73% lower osmolality, a 29.6% increase in spreadability and a 27% decrease in firmness as compared with the original tenofovir gel. When applied to epithelial cell monolayers, tenofovir gel showed a transient reduction in the transepithelial resistance while the RG-tenofovir gel did not. Both gels retained ectocervical and colorectal explant viability. However, tenofovir gel treatment resulted in epithelial stripping that was absent after RG-tenofovir gel treatment of the polarized explants. Anti-HIV-1 activity was confirmed by lack of HIV-1 infection in polarized explants treated with either gel as compared with the control explants.
Reducing the osmolality of the tenofovir gel resulted in improved epithelial integrity, which suggests better safety upon rectal use. The improved gel safety did not compromise drug release or anti-HIV-1 activity. These data support the use of this gel as a dual compartment microbicide.
HIV prevention; rectal microbicide; formulation; preclinical testing; safety
C31G is currently the focus of clinical trials designed to evaluate this agent as a microbicidal and spermicidal agent. In the following studies, the in vivo safety of C31G was assessed with a Swiss Webster mouse model of cervicovaginal toxicity and correlated with results from in vitro cytotoxicity experiments and published clinical observations. A single exposure of unformulated 1% C31G resulted in mild-to-moderate epithelial disruption and inflammation at 2 and 4 h postapplication. The columnar epithelium of the cervix was the primary site of damage, while no perturbation of the vaginal mucosa was observed. In contrast, application of unformulated 1.7% C31G resulted in greater levels of inflammation in the cervical epithelium at 2 h postapplication and severe epithelial disruption that persisted to 8 h postapplication. Application of a nonionic aqueous gel formulation containing 1% C31G resulted in no apparent cervicovaginal toxicity at any time point evaluated. However, formulation of 1.7% C31G did not substantially reduce the toxicity associated with unformulated C31G at that concentration. These observations correlate with findings gathered during a recent clinical trial, in which once-daily applications resulted in no adverse events in women receiving the formulation containing 1% C31G, compared to moderate-to-severe adverse events in 30% of women receiving the 1.7% C31G formulation. The Swiss Webster mouse model was able to effectively discriminate between concentrations and formulations of C31G that produced distinct clinical effects in human trials. The Swiss Webster animal model may be a highly valuable tool for preclinical evaluation of candidate vaginal microbicides.