Background: Tenofovir (TFV) gel is being evaluated as a microbicide with pericoital and daily regimens. To inhibit viral replication locally, an adequate concentration in the genital tract is critical.
Methods and findings: Forty-nine participants entered a two-phase study: single-dose (SD) and multi-dose (MD), were randomized to collection of genital tract samples (endocervical cells [ECC], cervicovaginal aspirate and vaginal biopsies) at one of seven time points [0.5, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, or 24 hr(s)] post-dose following SD exposure of 4 mL 1% TFV gel and received a single dose. Forty-seven were randomized to once (QD) or twice daily (BID) dosing for 2 weeks and to collection of genital tract samples at 4, 8 or 24 hrs after the final dose, but two discontinued prior to gel application. Blood was collected during both phases at the seven times post-dose. TFV exposure was low in blood plasma for SD and MD; median C(max) was 4.0 and 3.4 ng/mL, respectively (C≤29 ng/mL). TFV concentrations were high in aspirates and tissue after SD and MD, ranging from 1.2×10(4) to 9.9×10(6) ng/mL and 2.1×10(2) to 1.4×10(6) ng/mL, respectively, and did not noticeably differ between proximal and distal tissue. TFV diphosphate (TFV-DP), the intracellular active metabolite, was high in ECC, ranging from 7.1×10(3) to 8.8×10(6) ng/mL. TFV-DP was detectable in approximately 40% of the tissue samples, ranging from 1.8×10(2) to 3.5×10(4) ng/mL. AUC for tissue TFV-DP was two logs higher after MD compared to SD, with no noticeable differences when comparing QD and BID.
Conclusions: Single-dose and multiple-dose TFV gel exposure resulted in high genital tract concentrations for at least 24 hours post-dose with minimal systemic absorption. These results support further study of TFV gel for HIV prevention.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00561496.