New methods for long-lasting protection against sexually transmitted disease, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), are needed to help reduce the severity of STD epidemics, especially in developing countries. Intravaginal delivery of therapeutics has emerged as a promising strategy to provide women with local protection, but residence times of such agents are greatly reduced by the protective mucus layer, fluctuating hormone cycle, and complex anatomical structure of the reproductive tract. Polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) capable of encapsulating the desired cargo, penetrating through the mucosal surfaces, and delivering agents to the site of action have been explored. However, prolonged retention of polymer carriers and their enclosed materials may also be needed to ease adherence and confer longer-lasting protection against STDs. Here, we examined the fate of two poly (lactic acid)-hyperbranched polyglycerols (PLA-HPG) NP formulations - 1) nonadhesive PLA-HPG NPs (NNPs) and 2) surface-modified bioadhesive NPs (BNPs) - loaded with the antiretroviral elvitegravir (EVG) after intravaginal administration. BNP distribution was widespread throughout the reproductive tract, and retention was nearly 5 times higher than NNPs after 24 h. Moreover, BNPs were found to be highly associated with submucosal leukocytes and epithelial cell populations for up to 48 h after topical application, and EVG was retained significantly better in the vaginal lumen when delivered with BNPs as opposed to NNPs over a 24 h period. Our results suggest that bioadhesive PLA-HPG NPs can greatly improve and prolong intravaginal delivery of agents, which may hold potential in providing sustained protection over longer durations.
Keywords: Antiretroviral therapy; Bioadhesive nanoparticles; Elvitegravir; HIV prophylaxis; Intravaginal; PLA-HPG.
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