Antiretroviral therapy (ART) shows variable blood-brain barrier penetration. This may affect the development of neurological complications of HIV infection. In attempts to attenuate viral growth for the nervous system, cell-based nanoformulations were developed with the focus on improving drug pharmacokinetics. We reasoned that ART carriage could be facilitated within blood-borne macrophages traveling across the blood-brain barrier. To test this idea, an HIV-1 encephalitis (HIVE) rodent model was used where HIV-1-infected human monocyte-derived macrophages were stereotactically injected into the subcortex of severe combined immunodeficient mice. ART was prepared using indinavir (IDV) nanoparticles (NP, nanoART) loaded into murine bone marrow macrophages (BMM, IDV-NP-BMM) after ex vivo cultivation. IDV-NP-BMM was administered i.v. to mice resulting in continuous IDV release for 14 days. Rhodamine-labeled IDV-NP was readily observed in areas of HIVE and specifically in brain subregions with active astrogliosis, microgliosis, and neuronal loss. IDV-NP-BMM treatment led to robust IDV levels and reduced HIV-1 replication in HIVE brain regions. We conclude that nanoART targeting to diseased brain through macrophage carriage is possible and can be considered in developmental therapeutics for HIV-associated neurological disease.
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