In vitro inhibition of human papillomavirus following use of a carrageenan-containing vaginal gel

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Objective: To assess in vitro efficacy of Divine 9, a carrageenan-based vaginal lubricant that is being studied as a microbicide to inhibit HPV16 pseudovirus (PsV) infection. Methods: Sexually active US women between 19 and 35 years without prior HPV vaccination or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia were instructed to use Divine 9 vaginally with an applicator either before sex only or before and after intercourse. Women who applied a single dose of gel returned for cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) collection 1, 4 or 8–12 h after intercourse versus those who applied gel before and after intercourse returned 1, 4 or 8–12 h after the second gel dose. Carrageenan concentrations were assessed using an ELISA assay and the inhibitory activity was assessed using a PsV-based neutralization assay against HPV16 infection. Carrageenan concentrations and the percentage of PsV16 inhibition were compared using the Wilcoxon rank sum test. Results: Thirteen women were enrolled and thirty specimens from different time-points were assessed. 87% of CVL samples had detectable carrageenans with levels decreasing over time from intercourse. 93% of CVL samples had detectable PsV16 inhibition with median inhibition of 97.5%. PsV16 inhibition decreased over time, but remained high, with median inhibition of 98.1%, 97.4% and 83.4% at 1, 4 and 8–12 h, respectively. Higher carrageenan concentrations were associated with higher levels of PsV16 inhibition (rho = 0.69). Conclusions: This is the first report of a human study investigating in vitro HPV inhibition of a carrageenan-based vaginal lubricant with CVL collected after sexual intercourse. We demonstrate excellent efficacy in preventing PsV16 infection.