Objective: The aim of the present study was to determine whether a combination of anti-HIV drugs - tenofovir (TFV), lopinavir (LPV) and ritonavir (RTV) - in a lipid-stabilized nanosuspension (called TLC-ART101) could enhance and sustain intracellular drug levels and exposures in lymph node and blood cells above those in plasma.
Design: Four macaques were given a single dose of TLC-ART101 subcutaneously. Drug concentrations in plasma and mononuclear cells of the blood (PBMCs) and lymph nodes (LNMCs) were analysed using a validated combination LC-MS/MS assay.
Results: For the two active drugs (TFV, LPV), plasma and PBMC intracellular drug levels persisted for over 2 weeks; PBMC drug exposures were three- to four-fold higher than those in plasma. Apparent terminal half-lives (t1/2) of TFV and LPV were 65.3 and 476.9 h in plasma, and 169.1 and 151.2 h in PBMCs. At 24 and 192 h, TFV and LPV drug levels in LNMCs were up to 79-fold higher than those in PBMCs. Analysis of PBMC intracellular TFV and its active metabolite TFV-diphosphate (TFV-DP) indicated that intracellular exposures of total TFV and TFV-DP were markedly higher and persisted longer than in humans and macaques dosed with oral TFV prodrugs, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) or tenofovir alafenamide (TAF).
Conclusions: A simple, scalable three-drug combination, lipid-stabilized nanosuspension exhibited persistent drug levels in cells of lymph nodes and the blood (HIV host cells) and in plasma. With appropriate dose adjustment, TLC-ART101 may be a useful HIV treatment with a potential to impact residual virus in lymph nodes.