Multi-Study Assessment of Vaginal Cytokines and Microflora in the Safety Evaluation of Intravaginal Rings in Pig-Tailed Macaques

Karl Malcolm, Priya Srinivasan, Lorna Rabe, Ron Otten, James Mitchell, Janet McNicholl, Patrick Kiser, James Smith

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


BACKGROUND: HIV microbicide trials have emphasized the need to evaluate the safety of topical microbicides and delivery platforms in an animal model prior to conducting clinical efficacy trials. An ideal delivery device should provide sustainable and sufficient concentrations of effective products to prevent HIV transmission while not increasing transmission risk by either local mucosal inflammation and/or disruption of the normal vaginal microflora.

METHODS: Safety analyses of macaque-sized elastomeric silicone and polyurethane intravaginal rings (IVRs) loaded with candidate antiretroviral (ARV) drugs were tested in four studies ranging in duration from 49 to 73 days with retention of the IVR being 28 days in each study. Macaques were assigned to 3 groups; blank IVR, ARV-loaded IVR, and naïve. In sequential studies, the same macaques were used but rotated into different groups. Mucosal and systemic levels of cytokines were measured from vaginal fluids and plasma, respectively, using multiplex technology. Changes in vaginal microflora were also monitored. Statistical analysis (Mann-Whitney test) was used to compare data between two groups of unpaired samples (with and without IVR, and IVR with and without ARV) for the groups collectively, and also for individual macaques.

RESULTS: There were few statistically significant differences in mucosal and systemic cytokine levels measured longitudinally when the ring was present or absent, with or without ARVs. Of the 8 proinflammatory cytokines assayed a significant increase (p = 0.015) was only observed for IL8 in plasma with the blank and ARV loaded IVR (median of 9.2 vs. 5.7 pg/ml in the absence of IVR). There were no significant differences in the prevalence of H2O2-producing lactobacilli or viridans streptococci, or other microorganisms indicative of healthy vaginal microflora. However, there was an increase in the number of anaerobic gram negative rods in the presence of the IVR (p= < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: IVRs with or without ARVs neither significantly induce the majority of potentially harmful proinflammatory cytokines locally or systemically, nor alter the lactobacillus or G. vaginalis levels. The increase in anaerobic gram negative rods alone suggests minimal disruption of normal vaginal microflora. The use of IVRs as a long-term sustained delivery device for ARVs is promising and preclinical studies to demonstrate the prevention of transmission in the HIV/SHIV nonhuman primate model should continue.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - May 2010
EventMicrobicides 2010 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Duration: 01 May 201001 May 2010


ConferenceMicrobicides 2010
CountryUnited States
CityPittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Bibliographical note

Medium of Output: Poster

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Multi-Study Assessment of Vaginal Cytokines and Microflora in the Safety Evaluation of Intravaginal Rings in Pig-Tailed Macaques'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this