Lipophilic nanocrystal prodrug-release defines the extended pharmacokinetic profiles of a year-long cabotegravir

Nagsen Gautam, Jo Ellyn M. McMillan, Devendra Kumar, Aditya N. Bade, Qiaoyu Pan, Tanmay A. Kulkarni, Wenkuan Li, Brady Sillman, Nathan A. Smith, Bhagya L.Dyavar Shetty, Adam Szlachetka, Benson J. Edagwa, Howard E. Gendelman, Yazen Alnouti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


A once every eight-week cabotegravir (CAB) long-acting parenteral is more effective than daily oral emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate in preventing human immunodeficiency virus type one (HIV-1) transmission. Extending CAB dosing to a yearly injectable advances efforts for the elimination of viral transmission. Here we report rigor, reproducibility and mechanistic insights for a year-long CAB injectable. Pharmacokinetic (PK) profiles of this nanoformulated CAB prodrug (NM2CAB) are affirmed at three independent research laboratories. PK profiles in mice and rats show plasma CAB levels at or above the protein-adjusted 90% inhibitory concentration for a year after a single dose. Sustained native and prodrug concentrations are at the muscle injection site and in lymphoid tissues. The results parallel NM2CAB uptake and retention in human macrophages. NM2CAB nanocrystals are stable in blood and tissue homogenates. The long apparent drug half-life follows pH-dependent prodrug hydrolysis upon slow prodrug nanocrystal dissolution and absorption. In contrast, solubilized prodrug is hydrolyzed in hours in plasma and tissues from multiple mammalian species. No toxicities are observed in animals. These results affirm the pharmacological properties and extended apparent half-life for a nanoformulated CAB prodrug. The report serves to support the mechanistic design for drug formulation safety, rigor and reproducibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3453
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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