The male genital tract is a potential site of viral persistence. Therefore, adequate concentrations of antiretrovirals are required to eliminate HIV replication in the genital tract. Despite higher zidovudine (ZDV) and lamivudine (3TC) concentrations in seminal plasma (SP) than in blood plasma (BP) (SP/BP drug concentration ratios of 2.3 and 6.7, respectively), we have previously reported lower relative intracellular concentrations of their active metabolites, zidovudine triphosphate (ZDV-TP) and lamivudine triphosphate (3TC-TP), in seminal mononuclear cells (SMCs) than in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) (SMC/PBMC drug concentration ratios of 0.36 and 1.0, respectively). Here, we use population pharmacokinetic (PK) modeling-based methods to simultaneously describe parent and intracellular metabolite PK in blood, semen, and PBMCs and SMCs. From this model, the time to steady state in each matrix was estimated, and the results indicate that the PK of 3TC-TP and ZDV-TP in PBMCs are different from the PK of the two in SMCs and different for the two triphosphates. We found that steady-state conditions in PBMCs were achieved within 2 days for ZDV-TP and 3 days for 3TC-TP. However, steady-state conditions in SMCs were achieved within 2 days for ZDV-TP and 2 weeks for 3TC-TP. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, ZDV-TP in SMCs does not achieve the surrogate 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) (as established for PBMCs, assuming SMC IC50 = PBMC IC50) at the standard 300-mg twice-daily dosing. Mechanistic studies are needed to understand these differences and to explore intracellular metabolite behavior in SMCs for other nucleoside analogues used in HIV prevention, treatment, and cure.
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