Impact of sex on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of 1% tenofovir gel

Betsy C. Herold, Beatrice A. Chen, Robert A. Salata, Mark A. Marzinke, Clifton W. Kelly, Charlene S. Dezzutti, Ian Mcgowan, Beth Galaska, Lisa Levy, Jeanna M. Piper, Sharon Hillier, Craig W. Hendrix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background. Tenofovir (TFV) gel partially protected against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in one but not subsequent trials. The disappointing results were attributed largely to poor adherence. However, timing of gel application relative to sex may impact pharmacokinetics and contribute to outcomes. Thus, we conducted a single-dose pharmacokinetic study of TFV gel applied 1 or 24 hours before or 1 hour before and 1 hour after (BAT) sex and compared results with dosing without sex. Methods. Twenty-four couples were enrolled; cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) and tissue were collected 2 hours after sex with matching timed collections at no sex visits and assayed for drug concentrations and CVL anti-HIV activity. Results. Compared with dosing without sex, median TFV concentrations after sex decreased 72% and 78% (P <. 001) in CVL, 75% and 71% (P <. 001) in vaginal tissue, and 75% (P =. 06) and 55% (P <. 001) in cervical tissue with -1 hour and -24 hour dosing, respectively. Median concentration of TFV-diphosphate also decreased significantly in cervical tissue with -1 hour, dosing. BAT dosing resulted in drug levels at least as great as those in the absence of sex. Percent inhibition of HIV infection by post-coital CVL increased significantly from median (interquartile range) of 55% (54%) in the absence of gel to 99% (7%), 77% (57%), and 100% (0.4%) with -1 hour, -24 hour, or BAT dosing, respectively, and correlated significantly with drug concentration. Conclusions. Timing of TFV gel application relative to sex significantly impacts drug levels. BAT dosing or sustained delivery may be optimal for preexposure prophylaxis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-382
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • HIV
  • MTN-011
  • pharmacokinetics
  • post-coital
  • tenofovir gel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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