In vitro and in vivo: the story of nonoxynol 9

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2005 May 1;39(1):1-8. doi: 10.1097/01.qai.0000159671.25950.74.


There is an urgent need to expand the range of interventions to prevent HIV transmission and acquisition, especially those that can be controlled by women. Microbicides, defined as antimicrobial products that can be applied topically for the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, may offer one of the most promising preventive interventions, because they could be inexpensive, readily available, and widely acceptable. The first microbial product to be clinically evaluated contained Nonoxynol-9 (nonylpenoxypolyethoxyethanol [N-9]), a nonionic surfactant, as the active agent. This article presents a review of the in vitro, ex vivo, and animal model data on the safety of N-9 and a critical analysis of their predictive power based on the results of multiple safety and efficacy trials.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Animals
  • Anti-HIV Agents / chemistry*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Nonoxynol / chemistry*
  • Nonoxynol / therapeutic use
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surface-Active Agents / chemistry
  • Surface-Active Agents / therapeutic use


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Nonoxynol