Colorectal delivery and retention of PEG-Amprenavir-Bac7 nanoconjugates—proof of concept for HIV mucosal pre-exposure prophylaxis

Mahta Samizadeh, Xiaoping Zhang, Simi Gunaseelan, Antoinette G. Nelson, Matthew S. Palombo, Daniel R. Myers, Yashveer Singh, Usha Ganapathi, Zoltan Szekely, Patrick J. Sinko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Local delivery of anti-HIV drugs to the colorectal mucosa, a major site of HIV replication, and their retention within mucosal tissue would allow for a reduction in dose administered, reduced dosing frequency and minimal systemic exposure. The current report describes a mucosal pre-exposure prophylaxis (mPrEP) strategy that utilizes nanocarrier conjugates (NC) consisting of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), amprenavir (APV), and a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP; namely Bac7, a fragment derived from bactenecin 7). APV-PEG NCs with linear PEGs (2, 5, 10, and 30 kDa) exhibited reduced (52–21 %) anti-HIV-1 protease (PR) activity as compared to free APV in an enzyme-based FRET assay. In MT-2 T cells, APV-PEG3.4 kDa-FITC (APF) anti-HIV-1 activity was significantly reduced (160-fold, IC50 = 8064 nM) due to poor cell uptake, whereas it was restored (IC50 = 78.29 nM) and similar to APV (IC50 = 50.29 nM) with the addition of Bac7 to the NC (i.e., APV-PEG3.4 kDa-Bac7, APB). Flow cytometry and confocal microscopy demonstrated Bac7-PEG3.4 kDa-FITC (BPF) uptake was two- and fourfold higher than APF in MT-2 T cells and Caco-2 intestinal epithelial cells, respectively. There was no detectable punctate fluorescence in either cell line suggesting that BPF directly enters the cytosol thus avoiding endosomal entrapment. After colorectal administration in mice, BPF mucosal concentrations were 21-fold higher than APF concentrations. BPF concentrations also remained constant for the 5 days of the study suggesting that (1) the NC’s structural characteristics (i.e., the size of the PEG carrier and the presence of a CPP) significantly influenced tissue persistence, and (2) the NCs were probably lodged in the lamina propria since the average rodent colon mucosal cell turnover time is 2–3 days. These encouraging results suggest that Bac7 functionalized NCs delivered locally to the colorectal mucosa may form drug delivery depots that are capable of sustaining colorectal drug concentrations. Although the exact mechanisms for tissue persistence are unclear and will require further study, these results provide proof-of-concept feasibility for mPrEP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalDrug Delivery and Translational Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmaceutical Science


  • Amprenavir
  • Bactenecin 7
  • Cell penetrating peptide
  • Darunavir
  • HIV
  • Mucosal delivery
  • PEG conjugation
  • Polymeric drug delivery systems
  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis


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