via PLoS ONE


Sexual HIV-1 transmission by vaginal route is the most predominant mode of viral transmission, resulting in millions of new infections every year. In the absence of an effective vaccine, there is an urgent need to develop other alternative methods of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Many novel drugs that are currently approved for clinical use also show great potential to prevent viral sexual transmission when administered systemically. A small animal model that permits rapid preclinical evaluation of potential candidates for their systemic PrEP efficacy will greatly enhance progress in this area of investigation. We have previously shown that RAG-hu humanized mouse model permits HIV-1 mucosal transmission via both vaginal and rectal routes and displays CD4 T cell loss typical to that seen in the human. Thus far systemic PrEP studies have been primarily limited to RT inhibitors exemplified by tenofovir and emtricitabine. In these proof-of-concept studies we evaluated two new classes of clinically approved drugs with different modes of action namely, an integrase inhibitor raltegravir and a CCR5 inhibitor maraviroc as potential systemically administered chemo-prophylactics. Our results showed that oral administration of either of these drugs fully protects against vaginal HIV-1 challenge in the RAG-hu mouse model. Based on these results both these drugs show great promise for further development as orally administered PrEPs.

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