Seminal plasma reduces the effectiveness of topical polyanionic microbicides

Sarju Patel, Ehsan Hazrati, Natalia Cheshenko, Benjamin Galen, Heyi Yang, Esmeralda Guzman, Rong Wang, Betsy C. Herold, Marla J. Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to test the activity of microbicides against herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) introduced in seminal plasma. We found that seminal plasma interfered with the activity of PRO 2000 and of cellulose sulfate, increasing by 100-fold the concentration of drug required to inhibit 90% of viral plaque formation. Seminal plasma competitively inhibited binding of the microbicides to the HSV-2 envelope. Most of the interference was found in a high molecular-weight fraction; tandem mass spectrometry identified the proteins as fibronectin-1 and lactoferrin. In a murine model, the interference translated in vivo into a loss in protection. We found that 2% PRO 2000 gel protected 100% of mice challenged intravaginally with HSV-2 introduced in PBS, whereas only 55% of mice were protected if virus was introduced in seminal plasma (P=.0007, log rank test). If these findings are reflective of what occurs in humans, modifications to microbicides to ensure that they retain activity in the presence of seminal plasma are indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1394-1402
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases


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