Vaginal HIV transmission accounts for the majority of new infections worldwide. Currently, multiple efforts to prevent HIV transmission are based on pre-exposure prophylaxis with various antiretroviral drugs. Here, we describe two novel nanoformulations of the reverse transcriptase inhibitor rilpivirine for pericoital and coitus-independent HIV prevention. Topically applied rilpivirine, encapsulated in PLGA nanoparticles, was delivered in a thermosensitive gel, which becomes solid at body temperature. PLGA nanoparticles with encapsulated rilpivirine coated the reproductive tract and offered significant protection to BLT humanized mice from a vaginal high-dose HIV-1 challenge. A different nanosuspension of crystalline rilpivirine (RPV LA), administered intramuscularly, protected BLT mice from a single vaginal high-dose HIV-1 challenge one week after drug administration. Using transmitted/founder viruses, which were previously shown to establish de novo infection in humans, we demonstrated that RPV LA offers significant protection from two consecutive high-dose HIV-1 challenges one and four weeks after drug administration. In this experiment, we also showed that, in certain cases, even in the presence of drug, HIV infection could occur without overt or detectable systemic replication until levels of drug were reduced. We also showed that infection in the presence of drug can result in acquisition of multiple viruses after subsequent exposures. These observations have important implications for the implementation of long-acting antiretroviral formulations for HIV prevention. They provide first evidence that occult infections can occur, despite the presence of sustained levels of antiretroviral drugs. Together, our results demonstrate that topically- or systemically administered rilpivirine offers significant coitus-dependent or coitus-independent protection from HIV infection.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology