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1.  The Effect of Menopause on the Innate Anti-Viral Activity of Cervicovaginal Lavage 
Reproductive hormones are known to impact innate mucosal immune function of the lower genital tract. Our objectives were to determine the effect of hormonal status on intrinsic anti-viral (HSV-1, HSV-2 and HIV-1) activity of cervicovaginal lavage (CVL).
CVL was collected from165 asymptomatic women which included post-menopausal women (n=29), women not on contraception in the days 1-14 (n=26) or days 15-28 (n=27) of the menstrual cycle, and women using the levonogerestrol intrauterine device (n=28), depomedroxyprogesterone acetate (n=28) or combined oral contraceptives (n=27). The anti-HSV-1/-2 and the anti-HIV-1 activity of the CVL were measured using plaque assays and the Jurkat-Tat-CCR5 assay, respectively.
CVL from all of the groups had modest anti-viral activity. Anti-HIV-1 activity was decreased in CVL from postmenopausal women when compared to premenopausal women (11% vs. 34%, p=0.002). However there was no difference in anti-HIV-1 activity among premenopausal women regardless of phase of menstrual cycle or contraceptive use. Anti-HIV-1 activity was associated with the protein content of the CVL (r=0.44, p<0.001). There was no difference in anti-HSV-1 or -2 activity by hormonal group.
Menopause is associated with decreased innate HIV-1 activity in the lower genital tract, suggesting that factors in the vaginal fluid could play a role in increased susceptibility of HIV-1 infection in postmenopausal women. Hormonal contraceptive use, menopause and phase of menstrual cycle did not have a measurable impact on the intrinsic anti-HSV-1 or -2 activity.
PMCID: PMC4519412  PMID: 25818668
Menopause; Contraception; Human Immunodeficiency Virus; Herpes Simplex Virus; Innate Mucosal Immunity
2.  The Rational Design and Development of A Dual Chamber Vaginal/Rectal Microbicide Gel Formulation for HIV Prevention 
Antiviral research  2015;120:153-164.
The DuoGel™ was developed for safe and effective dual chamber administration of antiretroviral drugs to reduce the high incidence of HIV transmission during receptive vaginal and anal intercourse. The DuoGel™s containing IQP-0528, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI), were formulated from GRAS excipients approved for vaginal and rectal administration. The DuoGel™s were evaluated based upon quantitative physicochemical and biological evaluations defined by a Target Product Profile (TPP) acceptable for vaginal and rectal application. From the two primary TPP characteristics defined to accommodate safe rectal administration three DuoGel™ formulations (IQB3000, IQB3001, and IQB3002) were developed at pH 6.00 and osmolality ≤ 400 mmol/kg. The DuoGel™s displayed no in vitro cellular or bacterial toxicity and no loss in viability in ectocervical and colorectal tissue. IQB3000 was removed from consideration due to reduced NNRTI delivery (~65% reduction) and IQB3001 was removed due to increase spread resulting in leakage. IQB3002 containing IQP-0528 was defined as our lead DuoGel™ formulation, possessing potent activity against HIV-1 (EC50 = 10 nM). Over 12 month stability evaluations, IQB3002 maintained formulation stability. This study has identified a lead DuoGel™ formulation that will safely deliver IQP-0528 to prevent sexual HIV-1 transmission in the vagina and rectum.
PMCID: PMC4492852  PMID: 26093158
microbicides; HIV prevention; formulation; vaginal gel; rectal gel; pyrimidinedione
3.  A Phase 1 Randomized, Open Label, Rectal Safety, Acceptability, Pharmacokinetic, and Pharmacodynamic Study of Three Formulations of Tenofovir 1% Gel (the CHARM-01 Study) 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0125363.
The CHARM-01 study characterized the safety, acceptability, pharmacokinetics (PK), and pharmacodynamics (PD) of three tenofovir (TFV) gels for rectal application. The vaginal formulation (VF) gel was previously used in the CAPRISA 004 and VOICE vaginal microbicide Phase 2B trials and the RMP-02/MTN-006 Phase 1 rectal safety study. The reduced glycerin VF (RGVF) gel was used in the MTN-007 Phase 1 rectal microbicide trial and is currently being evaluated in the MTN-017 Phase 2 rectal microbicide trial. A third rectal specific formulation (RF) gel was also evaluated in the CHARM-01 study.
Participants received 4 mL of the three TFV gels in a blinded, crossover design: seven daily doses of RGVF, seven daily doses of RF, and six daily doses of placebo followed by one dose of VF, in a randomized sequence. Safety, acceptability, compartmental PK, and explant PD were monitored throughout the trial.
All three gels were found to be safe and acceptable. RF and RGVF PK were not significantly different. Median mucosal mononuclear cell (MMC) TFV-DP trended toward higher values for RF compared to RGVF (1136 and 320 fmol/106 cells respectively). Use of each gel in vivo was associated with significant inhibition of ex vivo colorectal tissue HIV infection. There was also a significant negative correlation between the tissue levels of TFV, tissue TFV-DP, MMC TFV-DP, rectal fluid TFV, and explant HIV-1 infection.
All three formulations were found to be safe and acceptable. However, the safety profile of the VF gel was only based on exposure to one dose whereas participants received seven doses of the RGVF and RF gels. There was a trend towards higher tissue MMC levels of TFV-DP associated with use of the RF gel. Use of all gels was associated with significant inhibition of ex vivo tissue HIV infection.
Trial Registration NCT01575405
PMCID: PMC4420274  PMID: 25942472
4.  Antiviral Activity of Genital Tract Secretions following Oral or Topical Tenofovir Pre-exposure Prophylaxis for HIV-1 
Surrogate markers of HIV-1 pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and microbicide efficacy are needed. One potential surrogate is the antiviral activity in cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) after exposure to candidate products. We measured CVL antiviral activity in women using oral or vaginal tenofovir-based PrEP and correlated activity with drug and immune mediator levels.
Inhibitory activity against HIV-1 and HSV-2 and concentrations of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-8, interferon-γ, induced protein 10 (IP-10), macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1α, MIP-3a, lactoferrin, secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor, and defensins were measured in CVL obtained from 60 women at baseline and after 6 weeks of a randomized sequence of oral and topical tenofovir. CVL tenofovir concentrations were measured by mass spectrometry.
The number of women with CVL anti-HIV activity ≥90% increased significantly from 5.0% at baseline to 89.1% following daily use of 1% tenofovir gel (RR=17.85, p<0.001), but there was no increase following daily oral tenofovir. The CVL anti-HIV activity correlated with drug levels (Spearman correlation coefficient 0.64 following tenofovir gel; p<0.001), but not with the concentrations of mucosal immune mediators. No increase in CVL anti-HSV activity was observed following either drug regimen, an observation consistent with the higher concentrations of tenofovir needed to inhibit HSV-2 infection. The CVL anti-HSV activity correlated with lactoferrin, defensins, IP-10, IL-8 and detectable levels of MIP-1α, but not with drug levels.
CVL may provide a surrogate for local but not systemic drug efficacy and a tool to better understand mucosal factors that modulate antiviral activity in genital tract secretions.
PMCID: PMC3981887  PMID: 24457633
5.  Rectal Microbicide Development 
The last few years have seen important progress in demonstrating the efficacy of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis, vaginal microbicides, and treatment as prevention as effective strategies for reducing the risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV infection. There has also been significant progress in the development of rectal microbicides. Preclinical non-human primate studies have demonstrated that antiretroviral microbicides can provide significant protection from rectal challenge with SIV or SHIV. Recent Phase 1 rectal microbicide studies have characterized the safety, acceptability, compartmental pharmacokinetics (PK), and pharmaco-dynamics (PD) of both UC781 and tenofovir gels. The tenofovir gel formulation used in vaginal studies was not well tolerated in the rectum and newer rectal-specific formulations have been developed and evaluated in Phase 1 studies. The PK/PD data generated in these Phase 1 studies may reduce the risk of advancing ineffective candidate rectal microbicides into late stage development. Tenofovir gel is currently poised to move into Phase 2 evaluation and it is possible that a Phase 2B/3 effectiveness study with this product could be initiated in the next 2–3 years.
PMCID: PMC4245014  PMID: 23612991
6.  Targeted Delivery of PSC-RANTES for HIV-1 Prevention using Biodegradable Nanoparticles 
Pharmaceutical research  2008;26(3):502-511.
Nanoparticles formulated from the biodegradable co-polymer poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), were investigated as a drug delivery system to enhance tissue uptake, permeation, and targeting for PSC-RANTES anti-HIV-1 activity.
Materials and Methods
PSC-RANTES nanoparticles formulated via a double emulsion process and characterized in both in vitro and ex vivo systems to determine PSC-RANTES release rate, nanoparticle tissue permeation, and anti-HIV bioactivity.
Spherical, monodisperse (PDI = 0.098 ± 0.054) PSC-RANTES nanoparticles (d = 256.58 ± 19.57 nm) with an encapsulation efficiency of 82.23 ± 8.35% were manufactured. In vitro release studies demonstrated a controlled release profile of PSC-RANTES (71.48 ± 5.25% release). PSC-RANTES nanoparticle maintained comparable anti-HIV activity with unformulated PSC-RANTES in a HeLa cell-based system with an IC50 of approximately 1pM. In an ex vivo cervical tissue model, PSC-RANTES nanoparticles displayed a fivefold increase in tissue uptake, enhanced tissue permeation, and significant localization at the basal layers of the epithelium over unformulated PSC-RANTES.
These results indicate that PSC-RANTES can readily be encapsulated into a PLGA nanoparticle drug delivery system, retain its anti-HIV-1 activity, and deliver PSC-RANTES to the target tissue. This is crucial for the success of this drug candidate as a topical microbicide product.
PMCID: PMC4243299  PMID: 19002569
drug delivery; HIV-1 prevention; microbicide; nanoparticles; PSC-RANTES
7.  Use of Human Mucosal Tissue to Study HIV-1 Pathogenesis and Evaluate HIV-1 Prevention Modalities 
Current HIV/AIDS reports  2013;10(1):12-20.
The use of human mucosal tissue models is an important tool advancing our understanding of the specific mechanisms of sexual HIV transmission. Despite 30 years of study, major gaps remain, including how HIV-1 transverses the epithelium and the identity of the early immune targets (gate keepers). Because defining HIV-1 transmission in vivo is difficult, mucosal tissue is being used ex vivo to identify key steps in HIV-1 entry and early dissemination. Elucidating early events of HIV-1 infection will help us develop more potent and specific HIV-1 preventatives such as microbicides and vaccines. Mucosal tissue has been incorporated into testing regimens for antiretroviral drugs and monoclonal antibodies. The use of mucosal tissue recapitulates the epithelium and immune cells that would be exposed in vivo to virus and drug. This review will discuss the use of mucosal tissue to better understand HIV-1 pathogenesis and prevention modalities.
PMCID: PMC4242793  PMID: 23224426
Mucosal tissue; Sexual transmission; Sexual HIV transmission; HIV-1 infection; HIV pathogenesis; Microbicide; Vaccine; Explants; Biopsies
8.  HIV-1 Infection of Female Genital Tract Tissue for use in Prevention Studies 
Ex vivo HIV-1 challenge has been proposed as a bio-indicator of microbicide product effectiveness. The objective of this study was to establish optimal parameters for use of female genital tract tissue in this model.
Ex vivo challenge involves in vivo product use, followed by tissue biopsy, and exposure of the tissue to HIV-1 in the laboratory.
Paired ectocervical and vaginal biopsies were collected from 42 women and 28 had additional biopsies from each site collected after 5% lidocaine (n=14) or chlorhexidine (n=14) treatment. Tissues were transported immediately to the laboratory and exposed to HIV-1. HIV-1 infection was followed by p24 ELISA on culture supernatants and at study end after weighing and fixing the tissue for immunohistochemistry (IHC) to detect p24 expressing cells.
While both tissue types were equally infected with HIV-1 based on IHC results, ectocervical tissues had significantly higher HIV-1 replication than vaginal tissues (P < .005). Lidocaine and chlorhexidine had minimal impact on HIV-1 infection and replication. Point estimates for p24 levels were defined for 95% probability of p24-positive tissues and were 3.43 log10 for ectocervical tissue and 2.50 log10 for vaginal tissue based on weight-adjusted cumulative p24 endpoints.
While similar proportions of ectocervical and vaginal tissues support HIV-1 infection, higher levels of HIV-1 replication were observed in ectocervical tissues. Defining point estimates for HIV-1 infection in fresh ectocervical and vaginal tissues provides valuable information for the evaluation of HIV-1 preventative treatments during early clinical studies.
PMCID: PMC3760971  PMID: 23514957
Microbicides; pre-exposure prophylaxis; HIV prevention; explants; mucosal tissue susceptibility; bio-indicator
9.  HIV-1 Specific IgA Detected in Vaginal Secretions of HIV Uninfected Women Participating in a Microbicide Trial in Southern Africa Are Primarily Directed Toward gp120 and gp140 Specificities 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101863.
Many participants in microbicide trials remain uninfected despite ongoing exposure to HIV-1. Determining the emergence and nature of mucosal HIV-specific immune responses in such women is important, since these responses may contribute to protection and could provide insight for the rational design of HIV-1 vaccines.
Methods and Findings
We first conducted a pilot study to compare three sampling devices (Dacron swabs, flocked nylon swabs and Merocel sponges) for detection of HIV-1-specific IgG and IgA antibodies in vaginal secretions. IgG antibodies from HIV-1-positive women reacted broadly across the full panel of eight HIV-1 envelope (Env) antigens tested, whereas IgA antibodies only reacted to the gp41 subunit. No Env-reactive antibodies were detected in the HIV-negative women. The three sampling devices yielded equal HIV-1-specific antibody titers, as well as total IgG and IgA concentrations. We then tested vaginal Dacron swabs archived from 57 HIV seronegative women who participated in a microbicide efficacy trial in Southern Africa (HPTN 035). We detected vaginal IgA antibodies directed at HIV-1 Env gp120/gp140 in six of these women, and at gp41 in another three women, but did not detect Env-specific IgG antibodies in any women.
Vaginal secretions of HIV-1 infected women contained IgG reactivity to a broad range of Env antigens and IgA reactivity to gp41. In contrast, Env-binding antibodies in the vaginal secretions of HIV-1 uninfected women participating in the microbicide trial were restricted to the IgA subtype and were mostly directed at HIV-1 gp120/gp140.
PMCID: PMC4108330  PMID: 25054205
10.  Development of HIV-1 Rectal-Specific Microbicides and Colonic Tissue Evaluation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102585.
The gastrointestinal tract is structurally and functionally different from the vagina. Thus, the paradigm of topical microbicide development and evaluation has evolved to include rectal microbicides (RMs). Our interest was to create unique RM formulations to safely and effectively deliver antiretroviral drugs to mucosal tissue. RMs were designed to include those that spread and coat all surfaces of the rectum and distal colon rapidly (liquid) and those that create a deformable, erodible barrier and remain localized at the administration site (gel). Tenofovir (TFV) (1%) was formulated as an aqueous thermoreversible fluid and a carbopol-based aqueous hydrogel. Lipid-based liquid and gel formulations were prepared for UC781 (0.1%) using isopropyl myristate and GTCC (Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides), respectively. Formulations were characterized for pH, viscosity, osmolality, and drug content. Pre-clinical testing incorporated ex vivo colonic tissue obtained through surgical resections and flexible sigmoidoscopy (flex sig). As this was the first time using tissue from both sources side-by-side, the ability to replicate HIV-1 was compared. Efficacy of the RM formulations was tested by applying the products with HIV-1 directly to polarized colonic tissue and following viral replication. Safety of the formulations was determined by MTT assay and histology. All products had a neutral pH and were isoosmolar. While HIV-1BaL and HIV-1JR-CSF alone and in the presence of semen had similar replication trends between surgically resected and flex sig tissues, the magnitude of viral replication was significantly better in flex sig tissues. Both TFV and UC781 formulations protected the colonic tissue, regardless of tissue source, from HIV-1 and retained tissue viability and architecture. Our in vitro and ex vivo results show successful formulation of unique RMs. Moreover, the results of flex sig and surgically resected tissues were comparable suggesting the incorporation of both in pre-clinical testing algorithms.
PMCID: PMC4099179  PMID: 25025306
12.  Mucosal Escherichia coli Bactericidal Activity and Immune Mediators Are Associated With HIV-1 Seroconversion in Women Participating in the HPTN 035 Trial 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;206(12):1931-1935.
The mucosal environment may impact the risk for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) acquisition. Immune mediators were measured in vaginal fluid collected from HPTN 035 participants who acquired HIV-1 and from those who remained HIV-1 negative (controls). Mediator concentrations were similar in samples obtained before as compared to after HIV-1 acquisition in the 8 seroconverters. Compared with controls, seroconverters were more likely to have detectable levels of HβD-2 (odds ratio [OR], 2.39; P = .005) and greater Escherichia coli bactericidal activity (OR, 1.22; P = .01) prior to seroconversion. E. coli bactericidal activity remained significant in a multivariable analysis (P = .02) and may be a biomarker for HIV-1 acquisition.
PMCID: PMC3502373  PMID: 22966121
13.  Safety and Efficacy of tenofovir / IQP-0528 combination gels – a dual compartment microbicide for HIV-1 prevention 
Antiviral research  2012;96(2):221-225.
Tenofovir (TFV) is a nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor and IQP-0528 is a nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor that also blocks virus entry. TFV and IQP-0528 alone have shown antiviral activity as microbicide gels. Because combination therapy will likely be more potent than mono-therapy, these drugs have been chosen to make a combination microbicide gel containing 2.5% TFV/1% IQP-0528. Safety and efficacy testing was done to evaluate five prototype combination gels. The gels retained TZM-bl cell and ectocervical and colorectal tissue viability. Further, the epithelium of the ectocervical and colorectal tissue remained intact after a 24 hour exposure. The ED50 calculated from the formulations for IQP-0528 was ~32 nM and for TFV was ~59 nM and their inhibitory activity was not affected by semen. The ED50 of TFV in the combination gels was ~100-fold lower than when calculated for the drug substance alone reflecting the activity of the more potent IQP-0528. When ectocervical and colorectal tissue were treated with the combination gels, HIV-1 p24 release was reduced by ≥1 log10 and ≥2 log10, respectively. Immunohistochemistry for the ectocervical tissues treated with combination gels showed no HIV-1 infected cells at study end. With the increased realization of receptive anal intercourse among heterosexual couples often in conjunction with vaginal intercourse, having a safe and effective microbicide for both mucosal sites is critical. The safety and efficacy profiles of the gels were similar for ectocervical and colorectal tissues suggesting these gels have the potential for dual compartment use.
PMCID: PMC3501576  PMID: 22940075
HIV prevention; combination microbicide; rectal microbicide; pyrimidinedione; topical gel
14.  Extracts from Acacia catechu suppress HIV-1 replication by inhibiting the activities of the viral protease and Tat 
Virology Journal  2013;10:309.
Acacia catechu (Mimosa family) stem bark extracts have been used traditionally as a dietary supplement as well as a folk medicine given its reported anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, anti-microbial and anti-tumor activities. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the anti-HIV-1 activity of the extracts from stem bark of A. catechu.
The aqueous and 50% ethanolic extracts of A. catechu stem bark were prepared and 50% ethanolic extract was further fractioned by successively partitioning with petroleum ether, chloroform and n-butanol. All the extracts and fractions were evaluated for cytotoxicity and anti-HIV-1 activity using different in vitro assays. The active n-butanol fraction was evaluated for its inhibition against HIV-1 reverse transcriptase, integrase, protease, pro-viral genome integration and viral Tat protein mediated transactivation. The effect of n-butanol fraction on the induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines secretion in Vk2/E6E7 cells and transepithelial resistance in Caco-2 and HEC-1A cells was investigated.
The aqueous and 50% ethanolic extracts of A. catechu showed IC50 values of 1.8 ± 0.18 μg/ml and 3.6 ± 0.31 μg/ml, respectively in cell-free virus based assay using TZM-bl cells and HIV-1NL4.3 (X-4 tropic). In the above assay, n-butanol fraction exhibited anti-HIV-1 activity with an IC50 of 1.7 ± 0.12 μg/ml. The n-butanol fraction showed a dose-dependent inhibition against HIV-1NL4.3 infection of the peripheral blood lymphocytes and against HIV-1BaL(R-5-tropic) as well as two different primary viral isolates of HIV-1 infection of TZM-bl cells. The n-butanol fraction demonstrates a potent inhibitory activity against the viral protease (IC50 = 12.9 μg/ml), but not reverse transcriptase or integrase. Further, in Alu-PCR no effect on viral integration was observed. The n-butanol fraction interfered with the Tat-mediated Long Terminal Repeat transactivation in TZM-bl cells, mRNA quantitation (qRT-PCR) and electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). The n-butanol fraction did not cause an enhanced secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines in Vk2/E6E7 cells. Additionally, no adverse effects were observed to the monolayer formed by the Caco-2 and HEC-1A epithelial cells.
The results presented here show a potential anti-HIV-1 activity of A. catechu mediated by the inhibition of the functions of the viral protein and Tat.
PMCID: PMC3819669  PMID: 25228267
15.  Reformulated tenofovir gel for use as a dual compartment microbicide 
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.
PMCID: PMC3417689  PMID: 22581908
HIV prevention; rectal microbicide; formulation; preclinical testing; safety
16.  Characterization of UC781-Tenofovir Combination Gel Products for HIV-1 Infection Prevention in an Ex Vivo Ectocervical Model 
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.
PMCID: PMC3370776  PMID: 22430977
17.  Sublimable C5A Delivery Provides Sustained and Prolonged Anti-HIV Microbicidal Activities 
We have identified a short amphipathic helical peptide, called C5A, which exhibits potent microbicidal activities in vitro and which offers protection from vaginal HIV transmission in vivo in a humanized mouse model. However, there are many obstacles to overcome before C5A can be considered a true microbicidal candidate. First, it must be stabilized against enzymatic degradation in a continuously warm and moist environment. Second, it must be delivered in a controlled manner to achieve long-term and coitally independent efficacy. We demonstrate in this in vitro study that the combination of two matrices with different subliming properties ((hexamethylcyclotrisiloxane [HMCS] and cyclododecane [CDD]) containing 10% labile C5A yielded the best results in terms of controlled release and preserved anti-HIV activity of the peptide when pre-exposed to cell-free medium or cell culture at body temperature for up to 2 months.
PMCID: PMC3370808  PMID: 22430971
18.  Is Wetter Better? An Evaluation of Over-the-Counter Personal Lubricants for Safety and Anti-HIV-1 Activity 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48328.
Because lubricants may decrease trauma during coitus, it is hypothesized that they could aid in the prevention of HIV acquisition. Therefore, safety and anti-HIV-1 activity of over-the-counter (OTC) aqueous- (n = 10), lipid- (n = 2), and silicone-based (n = 2) products were tested. The rheological properties of the lipid-based lubricants precluded testing with the exception of explant safety testing. Six aqueous-based gels were hyperosmolar, two were nearly iso-osmolar, and two were hypo-osmolar. Evaluation of the panel of products showed Gynol II (a spermicidal gel containing 2% nonoxynol-9), KY Jelly, and Replens were toxic to Lactobacillus. Two nearly iso-osmolar aqueous- and both silicone-based gels were not toxic toward epithelial cell lines or ectocervical or colorectal explant tissues. Hyperosmolar lubricants demonstrated reduction of tissue viability and epithelial fracture/sloughing while the nearly iso-osmolar and silicon-based lubricants showed no significant changes in tissue viability or epithelial modifications. While most of the lubricants had no measurable anti-HIV-1 activity, three lubricants which retained cell viability did demonstrate modest anti-HIV-1 activity in vitro. To determine if this would result in protection of mucosal tissue or conversely determine if the epithelial damage associated with the hyperosmolar lubricants increased HIV-1 infection ex vivo, ectocervical tissue was exposed to selected lubricants and then challenged with HIV-1. None of the lubricants that had a moderate to high therapeutic index protected the mucosal tissue. These results show hyperosmolar lubricant gels were associated with cellular toxicity and epithelial damage while showing no anti-viral activity. The two iso-osmolar lubricants, Good Clean Love and PRÉ, and both silicone-based lubricants, Female Condom 2 lubricant and Wet Platinum, were the safest in our testing algorithm.
PMCID: PMC3492332  PMID: 23144863
19.  Sustained Local Delivery of Structurally Diverse HIV-1 Microbicides Released from Sublimation Enthalpy Controlled Matrices 
Pharmaceutical Research  2012;29(11):3156-3168.
Use of coital-dependent products to prevent HIV-1 transmission has resulted in mixed success. We hypothesize that incorporation of antiviral drug candidates into a novel controlled delivery system will prolong their activity, making their use coital independent, thus increasing their chance of prophylactic success.
Tenofovir, emtricitabine, and C5A peptide HIV microbicides were mechanically incorporated into matrices comprising a series of subliming solids. Matrix sublimation rates and drug release rates were measured in three in vitro and one in vivo environments intended to model human vaginal interior. Antiviral activity studies evaluating matrix incorporated microbicides were performed using in vitro cell cultures and human ectocervical explants.
Drug release rates were identical to matrix sublimation rates, and were zero order. Differences in matrix material sublimation enthalpies determined drug release and matrix erosion rates in a thermodynamically definable manner, in vitro and in vivo. Durations of release ranging from several days to several months were readily achieved. Prolonged duration of anti HIV-1 activity was shown for matrix incorporated microbicides, using ectocervical explant and cell culture models of HIV-1 infection.
Subliming solid matrices show promise as a delivery system providing multi month intravaginal release of a wide range of HIV-1 microbicides.
PMCID: PMC3473190  PMID: 22736232
enthalpically controlled release; HIV-1; intravaginal delivery; prolonged antiviral effect; subliming solid matrix
21.  Vaginal Microbicide Gel for Delivery of IQP-0528, a Pyrimidinedione Analog with a Dual Mechanism of Action against HIV-1▿ †  
Pyrimidinediones, a novel class of compounds, have previously been shown to possess antiviral activity at nanomolar concentrations. One member of this class of compounds, IQP-0528, was selected as the lead molecule for formulation development owing to its stability at physiologically relevant conditions, wide therapeutic window, and antiviral activity in the nanomolar range. Here, we report the development of two vaginal gels—3.0% hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC) formulation and a 0.65% Carbopol formulation—for the sustained delivery of IQP-0528. Stability studies under accelerated conditions confirmed the chemical stability of IQP-0528 and mechanical stability of the gel formulation for 3 months. In vitro release studies revealed that diffusion-controlled release of IQP-0528 occurred over 6 h, with an initial lag time of approximately 1 h. Based on the drug release profile, the 3.0% HEC gel was selected as the lead formulation for safety and activity evaluations. The in vitro and ex vivo safety evaluations showed no significant loss in cell viability or significant inflammatory response after treatment with a 3.0% HEC gel containing 0.25% IQP-0528. In an in vitro HIV-1 entry inhibition assay, the lead formulation showed an 50% effective concentration of 0.14 μg/ml for gel in culture media, which corresponds to ∼0.001 μM IQP-0528. The antiviral activity was further confirmed by using polarized cervical explants, in which the formulation showed complete protection against HIV infection. In summary, these results are encouraging and warrant further evaluation of IQP-0528 gel formulations in in vivo models, as well as the development of alternative formulations for the delivery of IQP-0528 as a microbicide.
PMCID: PMC3067148  PMID: 21245437
22.  Performance of Swabs, Lavage, and Diluents to Quantify Biomarkers of Female Genital Tract Soluble Mucosal Mediators 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23136.
Measurement of immune mediators and antimicrobial activity in female genital tract secretions may provide biomarkers predictive of risk for HIV-1 acquisition and surrogate markers of microbicide safety. However, optimal methods for sample collection do not exist. This study compared collection methods.
Secretions were collected from 48 women (24 with bacterial vaginosis [BV]) using vaginal and endocervical Dacron and flocked swabs. Cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) was collected with 10 mL of Normosol-R (n = 20), saline (n = 14), or water (n = 14). The concentration of gluconate in Normosol-R CVL was determined to estimate the dilution factor. Cytokine and antimicrobial mediators were measured by Luminex or ELISA and corrected for protein content. Endogenous anti-HIV-1 and anti-E. coli activity were measured by TZM-bl assay or E. coli growth.
Higher concentrations of protein were recovered by CVL, despite a 10-fold dilution of secretions, as compared to swab eluents. After protein correction, endocervical swabs recovered the highest mediator levels regardless of BV status. Endocervical and vaginal flocked swabs recovered significantly higher levels of anti-HIV-1 and anti-E. coli activity than Dacron swabs (P<0.001). BV had a significant effect on CVL mediator recovery. Normosol-R tended to recover higher levels of most mediators among women with BV, whereas saline or water tended to recover higher levels among women without BV. Saline recovered the highest levels of anti-HIV-1 activity regardless of BV status.
Endocervical swabs and CVL collected with saline provide the best recovery of most mediators and would be the optimal sampling method(s) for clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3155537  PMID: 21858008
23.  Rectal microbicides: clinically relevant approach to the design of rectal specific placebo formulations 
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.
PMCID: PMC3061893  PMID: 21385339
24.  Multisite Comparison of Anti-Human Immunodeficiency Virus Microbicide Activity in Explant Assays Using a Novel Endpoint Analysis ▿ †  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;47(11):3530-3539.
Microbicide candidates with promising in vitro activity are often advanced for evaluations using human primary tissue explants relevant to the in vivo mucosal transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), such as tonsil, cervical, or rectal tissue. To compare virus growth or the anti-HIV-1 efficacies of candidate microbicides in tissue explants, a novel soft-endpoint method was evaluated to provide a single, objective measurement of virus growth. The applicability of the soft endpoint is shown across several different ex vivo tissue types, with the method performed in different laboratories, and for a candidate microbicide (PRO 2000). The soft-endpoint method was compared to several other endpoint methods, including (i) the growth of virus on specific days after infection, (ii) the area under the virus growth curve, and (iii) the slope of the virus growth curve. Virus growth at the assay soft endpoint was compared between laboratories, methods, and experimental conditions, using nonparametric statistical analyses. Intra-assay variability determinations using the coefficient of variation demonstrated higher variability for virus growth in rectal explants. Significant virus inhibition by PRO 2000 and significant differences in the growth of certain primary HIV-1 isolates were observed by the majority of laboratories. These studies indicate that different laboratories can provide consistent measurements of anti-HIV-1 microbicide efficacy when (i) the soft endpoint or another standardized endpoint is used, (ii) drugs and/or virus reagents are centrally sourced, and (iii) the same explant tissue type and method are used. Application of the soft-endpoint method reduces the inherent variability in comparisons of preclinical assays used for microbicide development.
PMCID: PMC2772583  PMID: 19726602
25.  In Vitro and Ex Vivo Testing of Tenofovir Shows It Is Effective As an HIV-1 Microbicide 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9310.
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.
PMCID: PMC2824823  PMID: 20174579

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