Microbicides may prevent HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in women; however, determining the optimal means of delivery of active pharmaceutical ingredients remains a major challenge. We previously demonstrated that a vaginal gel containing the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor MIV-150 partially protected macaques from SHIV-RT (simian/HIV reverse transcriptase) infection, and the addition of zinc acetate rendered the gel significantly protective. We test the activity of MIV-150 without the addition of zinc acetate when delivered from either ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) or silicone intravaginal rings (IVRs). MIV-150 was successfully delivered, because it was detected in vaginal fluids and tissues by radioimmunoassay in pharmacokinetic studies. Moreover, EVA IVRs significantly protected macaques from SHIV-RT infection. Our results demonstrate that MIV-150–containing IVRs have the potential to prevent HIV infection and highlight the possible use of IVRs for delivering drugs that block HIV and other STIs.
Integrin α4β7 (α4β7) mediates the homing of CD4+ T cells to gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT), which constitute a highly favorable environment for HIV expansion and dissemination. HIV and SIV envelope proteins bind to and signal through α4β7 and during acute infection SIV preferentially infects α4β7high CD4+ T cells. We postulated that the availability of these cells at the time of challenge could influence mucosal SIV transmission and acute viral load (VL).
We challenged 17 rhesus macaques with 3000 TCID50 of SIVmac239 rectally and followed the subsets of α4β7+ T and dendritic cells (DCs) by flow cytometry in blood and tissues, before and after challenge.
We found that the frequency of memory CD4+ T cells that expressed high levels of α4β7 (α4β7high memory CD4+ T cells) in blood before challenge correlated strongly with susceptibility to infection and acute VL. Notably, not only at the time of challenge, but also their frequency 3 weeks before challenge correlated with infection. This association extended to the rectal tissue as we observed a strong direct correlation between the frequency of α4β7high memory CD4+ T cells in blood and rectum before and after challenge. The frequency of α4β7+ myeloid DCs and α4β7high CD80+ DCs also correlated with infection and acute VL, while blood CCR5+ and CD69+ CD4+ T cells could not be associated with infection.
Our results suggest that animals with higher frequency of α4β7high CD4+ T cells in circulation and in rectal tissue could be more susceptible to SIV rectal transmission.
HIV; SIV; mucosa transmission; integrin alpha-4 beta-7; susceptibility; gut
Epidemiological studies suggest that prevalent herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection increases the risk of HIV acquisition, underscoring the need to develop coinfection models to evaluate promising prevention strategies. We previously established a single high-dose vaginal coinfection model of simian human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV)/HSV-2 in Depo-Provera (DP)-treated macaques. However, this model does not appropriately mimic women's exposure. Repeated limiting dose SHIV challenge models are now used routinely to test prevention strategies, yet, at present, there are no reports of a repeated limiting dose cochallenge model in which to evaluate products targeting HIV and HSV-2. Herein, we show that 20 weekly cochallenges with 2–50 TCID50 simian human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase (SHIV-RT) and 107 pfu HSV-2 results in infection with both viruses (4/6 SHIV-RT, 6/6 HSV-2). The frequency and level of vaginal HSV-2 shedding were significantly greater in the repeated exposure model compared to the single high-dose model (p<0.0001). We used this new model to test the Council's on-demand microbicide gel, MZC, which is active against SHIV-RT in DP-treated macaques and HSV-2 and human papillomavirus (HPV) in mice. While MZC reduced SHIV and HSV-2 infections in our repeated limiting dose model when cochallenging 8 h after each gel application, a barrier effect of carrageenan (CG) that was not seen in DP-treated animals precluded evaluation of the significance of the antiviral activity of MZC. Both MZC and CG significantly (p<0.0001) reduced the frequency and level of vaginal HSV-2 shedding compared to no gel treatment. This validates the use of this repeated limiting dose cochallenge model for testing products targeting HIV and HSV-2.
Several studies suggest that progesterone and estrogens may affect HIV transmission in different, possibly opposing ways. Nonetheless, a direct comparison of their effects on the mucosal immune system has never been done. We hypothesize that sex hormones might impact the availability of cells and immune factors important in early stages of mucosal transmission, and, in doing so influence the risk of HIV acquisition. To test this hypothesis, we employed 15 ovarectomized rhesus macaques: 5 were treated with Depot Medroxy Progesterone Acetate (DMPA), 6 with 17-β estradiol (E2) and 4 were left untreated. All animals were euthanized 5 weeks after the initiation of hormone treatment, a time post-DMPA injection associated with high susceptibility to SIV infection. We found that DMPA-treated macaques exhibited higher expression of integrin α4β7 (α4β7) on CD4+ T cells, the gut homing receptor and a marker of cells highly susceptible to HIV, in the endocervix than did the E2-treated animals. In contrast, the frequency of CCR5+ CD4+ T cells in DMPA-treated macaques was higher than in the E2-treated group in vaginal tissue, but lower in endocervix. α4β7 expression on dendritic cells (DCs) was higher in the DMPA-treated group in the endocervical tissue, but lower in vaginal tissue and on blood DCs compared with the E2-treated animals. Soluble MAdCAM-1, the α4β7 ligand, was present in the vaginal fluids of the control and E2-treated groups, but absent in the fluids from DMPA-treated animals. Both hormones modulated the expression and release of inflammatory factors and modified the distribution of sialomucins in the endocervix. In summary, we found that sex hormones profoundly impact mucosal immune factors that are directly implicated in HIV transmission. The effect is particularly significant in the endocervix. This may increase our understanding of the potential hormone-driven modulation of HIV susceptibility and potentially guide contraceptive policies in high-risk settings.
When microbicides used for HIV prevention contain antiretroviral drugs, there is concern for the potential emergence of drug-resistant HIV following use in infected individuals who are either unaware of their HIV infection status or who are aware but still choose to use the microbicide. Resistant virus could ultimately impact their responsiveness to treatment and/or result in subsequent transmission of drug-resistant virus. We tested whether drug resistance mutations (DRMs) would emerge in macaques infected with simian immunodeficiency virus expressing HIV reverse transcriptase (SHIV-RT) after sustained exposure to the potent non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) MIV-150 delivered via an intravaginal ring (IVR). We first treated 4 SHIV-RT-infected animals with daily intramuscular injections of MIV-150 over two 21 day (d) intervals separated by a 7 d drug hiatus. In all 4 animals, NNRTI DRMs (single and combinations) were detected within 14 d and expanded in proportion and diversity with time. Knowing that we could detect in vivo emergence of NNRTI DRMs in response to MIV-150, we then tested whether a high-dose MIV-150 IVR (loaded with >10 times the amount being used in a combination microbicide IVR in development) would select for resistance in 6 infected animals, modeling use of this prevention method by an HIV-infected woman. We previously demonstrated that this MIV-150 IVR provides significant protection against vaginal SHIV-RT challenge. Wearing the MIV-150 IVR for 56 d led to only 2 single DRMs in 2 of 6 animals (430 RT sequences analyzed total, 0.46%) from plasma and lymph nodes despite MIV-150 persisting in the plasma, vaginal fluids, and genital tissues. Only wild type virus sequences were detected in the genital tissues. These findings indicate a low probability for the emergence of DRMs after topical MIV-150 exposure and support the advancement of MIV-150-containing microbicides.
Herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) infection increases HIV susceptibility. We previously established a rhesus macaque model of vaginal HSV-2 preexposure followed by cochallenge with HSV-2 and simian/human immunodeficiency virus-reverse transcriptase (SHIV-RT). Using this model, we showed that a gel containing the nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) MIV-150 in carrageenan (CG) reduced SHIV-RT infection. To evaluate the efficacy of new generation microbicides against both viruses, we first established dual infection after single vaginal cochallenge with SHIV-RT and HSV-2 in HSV-2-naive macaques. All animals (6/6) became HSV-2 infected, with 4/6 coinfected with SHIV-RT. In a control group cochallenged with SHIV-RT and UV-inactivated HSV-2, 2/4 became SHIV-RT infected, and none had detectable HSV-2. Low-level HSV-2-specific antibody and T cell responses were detected in some HSV-2-infected animals. To test a CG gel containing MIV-150 and zinc acetate (MZC), which provided naive animals full protection from SHIV-RT for at least 8 h, MZC (vs. CG) was applied daily for 14 days followed by cochallenge 8 h later. MZC prevented SHIV-RT infection (0/9 infected, p=0.04 vs. 3/6 in CG controls), but only reduced HSV-2 infection by 20% (6/9 infected vs. 5/6 in CG, p=0.6). In HSV-2-infected animals, none of the gel-treated animals seroconverted, and only the CG controls had measurable HSV-2-specific T cell responses. This study shows the promise of MZC to prevent immunodeficiency virus infection (even in the presence of HSV-2) and reduce HSV-2 infection after exposure to a high-dose inoculum. Additionally, it demonstrates the potential of a macaque coinfection model to evaluate broad-spectrum microbicides.
Previously we showed that repeated vaginal application of a MIV-150/zinc acetate carrageenan (MIV-150/ZA/CG) gel and a zinc acetate carrageenan (ZA/CG) gel significantly protected macaques from vaginal simian human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase (SHIV-RT) infection. Gels were applied either daily for 2 weeks or every other day for 4 weeks, and the animals were challenged 4–24 h later. Herein, we examined the effects of a single vaginal dose administered either before or after virus challenge. Encouraged by the vaginal protection seen with MIV-150/ZA/CG, we also tested it rectally. Vaginal applications of MIV-150/ZA/CG, ZA/CG, and CG gel were performed once 8–24 h before, 1 h after, or 24 h before and 1 h after vaginal challenge. Rectal applications of MIV-150/ZA/CG and CG gel were performed once 8 or 24 h before rectal challenge. While vaginal pre-challenge and pre/post-challenge application of MIV-150/ZA/CG gel offered significant protection (88%, p<0.002), post-challenge application alone did not significantly protect. ZA/CG gel reduced infection prechallenge, but not significantly, and the effect was completely lost post-challenge. Rectal application of MIV-150/ZA/CG gel afforded limited protection against rectal challenge when applied 8–24 h before challenge. Thus, MIV-150/ZA/CG gel is a highly effective vaginal microbicide that demonstrates 24 h of protection from vaginal infection and may demonstrate efficacy against rectal infection when given close to the time of HIV exposure.
We previously showed that a carrageenan (CG) gel containing 50 μM MIV-150 (MIV-150/CG) reduced vaginal simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV)-RT infection of macaques (56%, p>0.05) when administered daily for 2 weeks with the last dose given 8 h before challenge. Additionally, when 100 mg of MIV-150 was loaded into an intravaginal ring (IVR) inserted 24 h before challenge and removed 2 weeks after challenge, >80% protection was observed (p<0.03). MIV-160 is a related NNRTI with a similar IC50, greater aqueous solubility, and a shorter synthesis. To objectively compare MIV-160 with MIV-150, herein we evaluated the antiviral effects of unformulated MIV-160 in vitro as well as the in vivo protection afforded by MIV-160 delivered in CG (MIV-160/CG gel) and in an IVR under regimens used with MIV-150 in earlier studies. Like MIV-150, MIV-160 exhibited potent antiviral activity against SHIV-RT in macaque vaginal explants. However, formulated MIV-160 exhibited divergent effects in vivo. The MIV-160/CG gel offered no protection compared to CG alone, whereas the MIV-160 IVRs protected significantly. Importantly, the results of in vitro release studies of the MIV-160/CG gel and the MIV-160 IVR suggested that in vivo efficacy paralleled the amount of MIV-160 released in vitro. Hundreds of micrograms of MIV-160 were released daily from IVRs while undetectable amounts of MIV-160 were released from the CG gel. Our findings highlight the importance of testing different modalities of microbicide delivery to identify the optimal formulation for efficacy in vivo.
Repeated use, coitus-independent microbicide gels that do not contain antiretroviral agents also used as first line HIV therapy are urgently needed to curb HIV spread. Current formulations require high doses (millimolar range) of antiretroviral drugs and typically only provide short-term protection in macaques. We used the macaque model to test the efficacy of a novel combination microbicide gel containing zinc acetate and micromolar doses of the novel non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor MIV-150 for up to 24 h after repeated gel application.
Methods and Findings
Rhesus macaques were vaginally challenged with SHIV-RT up to 24 h after repeated administration of microbicide versus placebo gels. Infection status was determined by measuring virologic and immunologic parameters. Combination microbicide gels containing 14 mM zinc acetate dihydrate and 50 µM MIV-150 afforded full protection (21 of 21 animals) for up to 24 h after 2 weeks of daily application. Partial protection was achieved with the MIV-150 gel (56% of control at 8 h after last application, 11% at 24 h), while the zinc acetate gel afforded more pronounced protection (67% at 8–24 h). Marked protection persisted when the zinc acetate or MIV-150/zinc acetate gels were applied every other day for 4 weeks prior to challenge 24 h after the last gel was administered (11 of 14 protected). More MIV-150 was associated with cervical tissue 8 h after daily dosing of MIV-150/zinc acetate versus MIV-150, while comparable MIV-150 levels were associated with vaginal tissues and at 24 h.
A combination MIV-150/zinc acetate gel and a zinc acetate gel provide significant protection against SHIV-RT infection for up to 24 h. This represents a novel advancement, identifying microbicides that do not contain anti-viral agents used to treat HIV infection and which can be used repeatedly and independently of coitus, and underscores the need for future clinical testing of their safety and ability to prevent HIV transmission in humans.
HIV-infected individuals rely on antiretroviral therapy (ART) to control viral replication. Despite abundant demonstrable benefits, the multiple limitations of ART point to the potential advantages of therapeutic vaccination approaches that could provide sustained host control of viral replication after discontinuation of ART. We provide evidence from a non-human primate model that a therapeutic vaccine applied to the tonsils can maintain low viral loads after cessation of ART.
Animals received 40 weeks of ART initiated 9 weeks after rectal SIVmac239 infection. During ART, animals were vaccinated (or not) with AT-2 inactivated SIVmac239 using CpG-C ISS-ODN (C274) or polyICLC as adjuvants. PolyICLC/AT-2 SIV vaccinated animals maintained viral loads <3×103 copies/ml for up to 16 weeks post-ART, whereas the C274/AT-2 SIV vaccinated and non-vaccinated animals' viremia ranged between 1×104–4×105 copies/ml (p<0.03). Neutralizing Ab activity in plasma was increased by polyICLC/AT-2 tonsillar vaccination under ART, compared to controls (p<0.03). Subsequent vaccination of all animals with polyICLC/AT-2 SIV in the absence of ART did not alter viral loads. Other immune parameters measured in blood and tissues were comparable between groups.
These results provide support for the potential benefit of mucosally delivered vaccines in therapeutic immunization strategies for control of AIDS virus infection.
Herpes simplex virus type-2 (HSV-2) infection enhances the transmission and acquisition of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This occurs in symptomatic and asymptomatic stages of HSV-2 infection, suggesting that obvious herpetic lesions are not required to increase HIV spread. An animal model to investigate the underlying causes of the synergistic action of the two viruses and where preventative strategies can be tested under such complex physiological conditions is currently unavailable.
We set out to establish a rhesus macaque model in which HSV-2 infection increases the susceptibility to vaginal infection with a model immunodeficiency virus (simian-human immunodeficiency virus, SHIV-RT), and to more stringently test promising microbicides. HSV-2 exposure significantly increased the frequency of vaginal SHIV-RT infection (n = 6). Although cervical lesions were detected in only ∼10% of the animals, long term HSV-2 DNA shedding was detected (in 50% of animals followed for 2 years). Vaginal HSV-2 exposure elicited local cytokine/chemokine (n = 12) and systemic low-level HSV-2-specific adaptive responses in all animals (n = 8), involving CD4+ and CD8+ HSV-specific T cells (n = 5). Local cytokine/chemokine responses were lower in co-infected animals, while simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-specific adaptive responses were comparable in naïve and HSV-2-infected animals (n = 6). Despite the increased frequency of SHIV-RT infection, a new generation microbicide gel, comprised of Carraguard® and a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor MIV-150 (PC-817), blocked vaginal SHIV-RT infection in HSV-2-exposed animals (n = 8), just as in naïve animals.
We established a unique HSV-2 macaque model that will likely facilitate research to define how HSV-2 increases HIV transmission, and enable more rigorous evaluation of candidate anti-viral approaches in vivo.
Anti-HIV microbicides are being investigated in clinical trials and understanding how promising strategies work, coincident with demonstrating efficacy in vivo, is central to advancing new generation microbicides. We evaluated Carraguard® and a new generation Carraguard-based formulation containing the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) MIV-150 (PC-817). Since dendritic cells (DCs) are believed to be important in HIV transmission, the formulations were tested for the ability to limit DC-driven infection in vitro versus vaginal infection of macaques with RT-SHIV (SIVmac239 bearing HIV reverse transcriptase). Carraguard showed limited activity against cell-free and mature DC-driven RT-SHIV infections and, surprisingly, low doses of Carraguard enhanced infection. However, nanomolar amounts of MIV-150 overcame enhancement and blocked DC-transmitted infection. In contrast, Carraguard impeded infection of immature DCs coincident with DC maturation. Despite this variable activity in vitro, Carraguard and PC-817 prevented vaginal transmission of RT-SHIV when applied 30 min prior to challenge. PC-817 appeared no more effective than Carraguard in vivo, due to the limited activity of a single dose of MIV-150 and the dominant barrier effect of Carraguard. However, 3 doses of MIV-150 in placebo gel at and around challenge limited vaginal infection, demonstrating the potential activity of a topically applied NNRTI. These data demonstrate discordant observations when comparing in vitro and in vivo efficacy of Carraguard-based microbicides, highlighting the difficulties in testing putative anti-viral strategies in vitro to predict in vivo activity. This work also underscores the potential of Carraguard-based formulations for the delivery of anti-viral drugs to prevent vaginal HIV infection.
Here, we describe the generation of a novel type of HIV entry inhibitor using the recently developed Designed Ankyrin Repeat Protein (DARPin) technology. DARPin proteins specific for human CD4 were selected from a DARPin DNA library using ribosome display. Selected pool members interacted specifically with CD4 and competed with gp120 for binding to CD4. DARPin proteins derived in the initial selection series inhibited HIV in a dose-dependent manner, but showed a relatively high variability in their capacity to block replication of patient isolates on primary CD4 T cells. In consequence, a second series of CD4-specific DARPins with improved affinity for CD4 was generated. These 2nd series DARPins potently inhibit infection of genetically divergent (subtype B and C) HIV isolates in the low nanomolar range, independent of coreceptor usage. Importantly, the actions of the CD4 binding DARPins were highly specific: no effect on cell viability or activation, CD4 memory cell function, or interference with CD4-independent virus entry was observed. These novel CD4 targeting molecules described here combine the unique characteristics of DARPins—high physical stability, specificity and low production costs—with the capacity to potently block HIV entry, rendering them promising candidates for microbicide development.
There is an increasing need to develop inhibitors of HIV entry into target cells for both application in therapy and prevention. The development of specific HIV inhibitors as microbicides, agents that by topical application prevent infection, is considered particularly important in limiting the spread of HIV in the absence of effective vaccines. To derive highly potent and specific inhibitors of HIV entry for potential use as microbicide, we employed the recently developed Designed Ankyrin Repeat Protein technology. Using this technique, Designed Ankyrin Repeat Proteins can be evolved that bind their target molecules as specifically and efficiently as antibodies. In the present study, we generated a panel of Designed Ankyrin Repeat Proteins that bind specifically to the cellular CD4 receptor, the main entry receptor of HIV. The obtained proteins are very potent and highly specific inhibitors of HIV entry and provide a broad reactivity against genetically different virus strains. Due to the high physical stability of Designed Ankyrin Repeat Proteins and their low cost production, these novel HIV entry inhibitors represent promising candidates for microbicide development.