Application of a Scavenger Receptor A1-Targeted Polymeric Prodrug Platform for Lymphatic Drug Delivery in HIV

Mol Pharm. 2020 Oct 5;17(10):3794-3812. doi: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.0c00562. Epub 2020 Sep 9.


We have developed a macromolecular prodrug platform based on poly(l-lysine succinylated) (PLS) that targets scavenger receptor A1 (SR-A1), a receptor expressed by myeloid and endothelial cells. We demonstrate the selective uptake of PLS by murine macrophage, RAW 264.7 cells, which was eliminated upon cotreatment with the SR-A inhibitor polyinosinic acid (poly I). Further, we observed no uptake of PLS in an SR-A1-deficient RAW 264.7 cell line, even after 24 h incubation. In mice, PLS distributed to lymphatic organs following i.v. injection, as observed by ex vivo fluorescent imaging, and accumulated in lymph nodes following both i.v. and i.d. administrations, based on immunohistochemical analysis with high-resolution microscopy. As a proof-of-concept, the HIV antiviral emtricitabine (FTC) was conjugated to the polymer's succinyl groups via ester bonds, with a drug loading of 14.2% (wt/wt). The prodrug (PLS-FTC) demonstrated controlled release properties in vitro with a release half-life of 15 h in human plasma and 29 h in esterase-inhibited plasma, indicating that drug release occurs through both enzymatic and nonenzymatic mechanisms. Upon incubation of PLS-FTC with human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), the released drug was converted to the active metabolite FTC triphosphate. In a pharmacokinetic study in rats, the prodrug achieved ∼7-19-fold higher concentrations in lymphatic tissues compared to those in FTC control, supporting lymphatic-targeted drug delivery. We believe that the SR-A1-targeted macromolecular PLS prodrug platform has extraordinary potential for the treatment of infectious diseases.

Keywords: FTC; HIV; emtricitabine; lymphatic distribution; macromolecular prodrug; polymeric prodrug; prodrug; scavenger receptor A1 (SR-A1).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-HIV Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Drug Liberation
  • Emtricitabine / administration & dosage
  • Emtricitabine / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Poly I / pharmacology
  • Polylysine / chemistry
  • Prodrugs / administration & dosage
  • Prodrugs / pharmacokinetics
  • Proof of Concept Study
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Rats
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class A / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class A / genetics
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class A / metabolism*


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Drug Carriers
  • MSR1 protein, human
  • Msr1 protein, mouse
  • Prodrugs
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class A
  • Polylysine
  • Poly I
  • Emtricitabine