MTN-033: a Phase 1 Study Comparing Applicator versus "as Lubricant" Delivery of Rectal Dapivirine Gel

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2022 Nov 15;66(11):e0081622. doi: 10.1128/aac.00816-22. Epub 2022 Oct 18.


Data to inform behaviorally congruent delivery of rectal microbicides as lubricants are scant. Dapivirine (DPV) is a nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor which has been demonstrated to be well-tolerated and efficacious in multiple clinical trials when used in a vaginal ring formulation. DPV gel administered rectally with an applicator was found to be well-tolerated in a phase 1 clinical trial. MTN-033, a single site, open label, sequence randomized, crossover study, enrolled HIV-negative men to receive 0.05% DPV gel intrarectally using an applicator (2.5 g) and self-administered on an artificial phallus as lubricant (up to 10 g). The study evaluated the pharmacokinetics (in plasma, rectal fluid, and mucosal rectal tissue), safety, acceptability, and pharmacodynamics of DPV gel when applied rectally. Statistical comparisons between methods of application were performed using mixed effects models or Wilcoxon's signed rank tests. Sixteen participants used DPV gel by applicator and 15/16 participants used gel as lubricant (mean, 1.8 g; SD, 0.8). DPV plasma AUC0-24h after use as lubricant was estimated to be 0.41 times the AUC0-24h (95% CI 0.24, 0.88) after use with applicator. While DPV was quantifiable in plasma and luminal fluid, it was not quantifiable in tissue for both applicator and as lubricant administration. No related adverse events (AE) were reported, and 15/15 participants felt the gel was easy to use. Evidence of local delivery and systemic absorption of DPV when dosed as an anal lubricant supports the feasibility and potential for development of lubricant-delivered rectal microbicides. There were no safety concerns associated with use of DPV gel and participants reported finding it easy to use. However, lower DPV exposure in plasma and lack of quantifiable DPV in rectal tissue indicate that higher potency, concentration, and longer half-life antiretrovirals with optimized formulations will be needed to achieve protective tissue concentrations.

Keywords: HIV prevention; behavioral congruence; lubricant; microbicide; microbicides; on demand; pharmacokinetic; rectal.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Gels
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Lubricants / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacokinetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors / therapeutic use


  • Lubricants
  • Dapivirine
  • Pyrimidines
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  • Gels
  • Anti-HIV Agents