The rise and fall of polyanionic inhibitors of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1.

Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Center for Sexually Transmitted Disease, Center for Molecular Therapeutics and Resistance, Institute for Molecular Medicine & Infectious Disease, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA.
Antiviral research (Impact Factor: 3.61). 03/2011; 90(3):168-82. DOI: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2011.03.176
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Infection by the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is an ordered, multistep process involving binding and entry, reverse transcription, integration, viral gene transcription, translation, processing, and finally assembly. Numerous therapeutic and preventive compounds, which are currently available for clinical use or are under preclinical and clinical development, act on at least one of these steps. Polyanionic HIV-1 inhibitors comprise a family of compounds that are generally considered entry inhibitors. The main mechanism of anti-HIV-1 activity associated with these compounds involves electrostatic interactions with HIV-1 glycoprotein 120 that ultimately prevent binding of the virus to target cells. A number of these compounds have been considered for systemic use and for use as microbicides, which are products designed to prevent sexual HIV-1 transmission. These compounds have been studied extensively using in vitro assays of activity, cytotoxicity, and mechanism of action, ex vivo models of HIV-1 transmission, and animal models of in vivo efficacy and toxicity. Three of these polyanionic compounds - cellulose sulfate, carrageenan, and PRO 2000 - were advanced into clinical trials of microbicide safety and efficacy. Although phase I and phase II clinical trials showed these compounds to be safe and well tolerated, none of the phase III trials provided any evidence that these compounds were effective against heterosexual HIV-1 transmission. Furthermore, clinical and in vitro results suggest enhancement of HIV-1 infection in the presence of polyanionic compounds. We discuss the preclinical development of polyanionic HIV-1 inhibitors, the clinical trials of polyanionic compounds used systemically and as topical vaginal microbicides, and the prospects for the future development of these compounds as inhibitors of HIV-1 infection.

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