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BMC Infect Dis. 2002 Nov 21;2:27. Epub 2002 Nov 21.

Anti-HIV-1 activity of anionic polymers: a comparative study of candidate microbicides.

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Biochemical Virology Laboratory, The Lindsley F, Kimball Research Institute of the New York Blood Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.



Cellulose acetate phthalate (CAP) in soluble form blocks coreceptor binding sites on the virus envelope glycoprotein gp120 and elicits gp41 six-helix bundle formation, processes involved in virus inactivation. CAP is not soluble at pH < 5.5, normal for microbicide target sites. Therefore, the interaction between insoluble micronized CAP and HIV-1 was studied. Carbomer 974P/BufferGel; carrageenan; cellulose sulfate; dextran/dextrin sulfate, poly(napthalene sulfonate) and poly(styrene-4-sulfonate) are also being considered as anti-HIV-1 microbicides, and their antiviral properties were compared with those of CAP.


Enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) were used to (1) study HIV-1 IIIB and BaL binding to micronized CAP; (2) detect virus disintegration; and (3) measure gp41 six-helix bundle formation. Cells containing integrated HIV-1 LTR linked to the beta-gal gene and expressing CD4 and coreceptors CXCR4 or CCR5 were used to measure virus infectivity.


1) HIV-1 IIIB and BaL, respectively, effectively bound to micronized CAP. 2) The interaction between HIV-1 and micronized CAP led to: (a) gp41 six-helix bundle formation; (b) virus disintegration and shedding of envelope glycoproteins; and (c) rapid loss of infectivity. Polymers other than CAP, except Carbomer 974P, elicited gp41 six-helix bundle formation in HIV-1 IIIB but only poly(napthalene sulfonate), in addition to CAP, had this effect on HIV-1 BaL. These polymers differed with respect to their virucidal activities, the differences being more pronounced for HIV-1 BaL.


Micronized CAP is the only candidate topical microbicide with the capacity to remove rapidly by adsorption from physiological fluids HIV-1 of both the X4 and R5 biotypes and is likely to prevent virus contact with target cells. The interaction between micronized CAP and HIV-1 leads to rapid virus inactivation. Among other anionic polymers, cellulose sulfate, BufferGel and aryl sulfonates appear most effective in this respect.

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