Vaccine-mediated prevention of primary HIV-1 infection at the heterosexual mucosal portal of entry may be facilitated by highly optimised formulations or drug delivery devices for intravaginal (i.vag) immunization. Previously we described hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC)-based rheologically structured gel vehicles (RSVs) for vaginal immunization of an HIV-1 vaccine candidate, a soluble recombinant trimeric HIV-1 clade-C envelope glycoprotein designated CN54gp140. Here we investigated the efficacy of lyophilized solid dosage formulations (LSDFs) for prolonging antigen stability and as i.vag delivery modalities. LSDFs were designed and developed that upon i.vag administration they would reconstitute with the imbibing of vaginal fluid to mucoadhesive, site-retentive semi-solids. Mice were immunized with lyophilized equivalents of (i) RSVs, (ii) modified versions of the RSVs more suited to lyophilization (sodium carboxymethyl cellulose (NaCMC)-based gels) and (iii) Carbopol® gel, all containing CN54gp140. NaCMC-based LSDFs provided significantly enhanced antigen stability compared to aqueous-based RSVs. Rheological analysis indicated the NaCMC-based LSDFs would offer enhanced vaginal retention in woman compared to more conventional vaginal gel formulations. All LSDFs were well tolerated in the mouse model. Following i.vag administration, all LSDFs boosted systemic CN54gp140-specific antibody responses in sub-cutaneously primed mice. Induction of CN54gp140-specific antibody responses in the female genital tract was evident. Of all the LSDFs the fastest releasing which was lyophilized Carbopol® gel elicited immune responses comparable to buffer instillation of antigen suggesting that rather than slower sustained release, initial high burst release from the LSDFs may suffice. The boosting of specific immune responses upon i.vag administration indicates that LSDFs are viable mucosal vaccine delivery modalities promoting antigen stability and facilitating intimate exposure of CN54gp140 to the mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue of the female genital tract.
Donnelly, L., Curran, R. M., Tregoning, J. S., McKay, P. F., Cole, T., Morrow, R. J., Kett, V. L., Andrews, G. P., Woolfson, A. D., Malcolm, R. K., & Shattock, R. J. (2011). Intravaginal immunization using the recombinant HIV-1 clade-C trimericenvelope glycoprotein CN54gp140 formulated within lyophilized soliddosage forms. Vaccine, 29, 4512-4520. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.04.023