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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2012 Nov;28(11):1513-23. doi: 10.1089/AID.2012.0026. Epub 2012 Jun 25.

Combinations of griffithsin with other carbohydrate-binding agents demonstrate superior activity against HIV Type 1, HIV Type 2, and selected carbohydrate-binding agent-resistant HIV Type 1 strains.

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Rega Institute for Medical Research, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.


Carbohydrate-binding agents (CBAs) are potential HIV microbicidal agents with a high genetic barrier to resistance. We wanted to evaluate whether two mannose-specific CBAs, recognizing multiple and often distinct glycan structures on the HIV envelope gp120, can interact synergistically against HIV-1, HIV-2, and HIV-1 strains that were selected for resistance against particular CBAs [i.e., 2G12 mAb and microvirin (MVN)]. Paired CBA/CBA combinations mainly showed synergistic activity against both wild-type HIV-1 and HIV-2 but also 2G12 mAb- and MVN-resistant HIV-1 strains as based on the median effect principle with combination indices (CIs) ranging between 0.29 and 0.97. Upon combination, an increase in antiviral potency of griffithsin (GRFT) up to ∼12-fold (against HIV-1), ∼8-fold (against HIV-2), and ∼6-fold (against CBA-resistant HIV-1) was observed. In contrast, HHA/GNA combinations showed additive activity against wild-type HIV-1 and HIV-2 strains, but remarkable synergy with HHA and GNA was observed against 2G12 mAb- and MVN-resistant HIV-1 strains (CI, 0.64 and 0.49, respectively). Overall, combinations of GRFT and other CBAs showed synergistic activity against HIV-1, HIV-2, and even against certain CBA-resistant HIV-1 strains. The CBAs tested appear to have distinct binding patterns on the gp120 envelope and therefore do not necessarily compete with each other's glycan binding sites on gp120. As a result, there might be no steric hindrance between two different CBAs in their competition for glycan binding (except for the HHA/GNA combination). These data are encouraging for the use of paired CBA combinations in topical microbicide applications (e.g., creams, gels, or intravaginal rings) to prevent HIV transmission.

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