A novel microbicide/contraceptive intravaginal ring protects macaque genital mucosa against SHIV-RT infection ex vivo

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Women need multipurpose prevention products (MPTs) that protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and provide contraception. The Population Council has developed a prototype intravaginal ring (IVR) releasing the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) MIV-150 (M), zinc acetate (ZA), carrageenan (CG) and levonorgestrel (LNG) (MZCL IVR) to protect against HIV, HSV-2, HPV and unintended pregnancy. Our objective was to evaluate the anti-SHIV-RT activity of MZCL IVR in genital mucosa. First, macaque vaginal tissues were challenged with SHIV-RT in the presence of (i) MIV-150 ± LNG or (ii) vaginal fluids (VF); available from studies completed earlier) collected at various time points post insertion of MZCL and MZC IVRs. Then, (iii) MZCL IVRs (vs. LNG IVRs) were inserted in non-Depo Provera-treated macaques for 24h and VF, genital biopsies, and blood were collected and tissues were challenged with SHIV-RT. Infection was monitored with one step SIV gag qRT-PCR or p27 ELISA. MIV-150 (LCMS/MS, RIA), LNG (RIA) and CG (ELISA) were measured in different compartments. Log-normal generalized mixed linear models were used for analysis. LNG did not affect the anti-SHIV-RT activity of MIV-150 in vitro. MIV-150 in VF from MZC/MZCL IVR-treated macaques inhibited SHIV-RT in vaginal mucosa in a dose-dependent manner (p < 0.05). MIV-150 in vaginal tissue from MZCL IVR-treated animals inhibited ex vivo infection relative to baseline (96%; p < 0.0001) and post LNG IVR group (90%, p < 0.001). No MIV-150 dose-dependent protection was observed, likely because of high MIV-150 concentrations in all vaginal tissue samples. In cervical tissue, MIV-150 inhibited infection vs. baseline (99%; p < 0.05). No cervical tissue was available for MIV-150 measurement. Exposure to LNG IVR did not change tissue infection level. These observations support further development of MZCL IVR as a multipurpose prevention technology to improve women’s sexual and reproductive health.