Mechanistic Models of Anti-HIV Microbicide Drug Delivery

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Katz, David F.

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A new modality for preventing HIV transmission is emerging in the form of topical microbicides. Some clinical trials have shown some promising results of these methods of protection while other trials have failed to show efficacy. Due to the relatively novel nature of microbicide drug transport, a rigorous, deterministic analysis of that transport can help improve the design of microbicide vehicles and understand results from clinical trials. This type of analysis can aid microbicide product design by helping understand and organize the determinants of drug transport and the potential efficacies of candidate microbicide products.

Microbicide drug transport is modeled as a diffusion process with convection and reaction effects in appropriate compartments. This is applied here to vaginal gels and rings and a rectal enema, all delivering the microbicide drug Tenofovir. Although the focus here is on Tenofovir, the methods established in this dissertation can readily be adapted to other drugs, given knowledge of their physical and chemical properties, such as the diffusion coefficient, partition coefficient, and reaction kinetics. Other dosage forms such as tablets and fiber meshes can also be modeled using the perspective and methods developed here.

The analyses here include convective details of intravaginal flows by both ambient fluid and spreading gels with different rheological properties and applied volumes. These are input to the overall conservation equations for drug mass transport in different compartments. The results are Tenofovir concentration distributions in time and space for a variety of microbicide products and conditions. The Tenofovir concentrations in the vaginal and rectal mucosal stroma are converted, via a coupled reaction equation, to concentrations of Tenofovir diphosphate, which is the active form of the drug that functions as a reverse transcriptase inhibitor against HIV. Key model outputs are related to concentrations measured in experimental pharmacokinetic (PK) studies, e.g. concentrations in biopsies and blood. A new measure of microbicide prophylactic functionality, the Percent Protected, is calculated. This is the time dependent volume of the entire stroma (and thus fraction of host cells therein) in which Tenofovir diphosphate concentrations equal or exceed a target prophylactic value, e.g. an EC50.

Results show the prophylactic potentials of the studied microbicide vehicles against HIV infections. Key design parameters for each are addressed in application of the models. For a vaginal gel, fast spreading at small volume is more effective than slower spreading at high volume. Vaginal rings are shown to be most effective if inserted and retained as close to the fornix as possible. Because of the long half-life of Tenofovir diphosphate, temporary removal of the vaginal ring (after achieving steady state) for up to 24h does not appreciably diminish Percent Protected. However, full steady state (for the entire stromal volume) is not achieved until several days after ring insertion. Delivery of Tenofovir to the rectal mucosa by an enema is dominated by surface area of coated mucosa and whether the interiors of rectal crypts are filled with the enema fluid. For the enema 100% Percent Protected is achieved much more rapidly than for vaginal products, primarily because of the much thinner epithelial layer of the mucosa. For example, 100% Percent Protected can be achieved with a one minute enema application, and 15 minute wait time.

Results of these models have good agreement with experimental pharmacokinetic data, in animals and clinical trials. They also improve upon traditional, empirical PK modeling, and this is illustrated here. Our deterministic approach can inform design of sampling in clinical trials by indicating time periods during which significant changes in drug concentrations occur in different compartments. More fundamentally, the work here helps delineate the determinants of microbicide drug delivery. This information can be the key to improved, rational design of microbicide products and their dosage regimens.





Gao, Yajing (2016). Mechanistic Models of Anti-HIV Microbicide Drug Delivery. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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