Autophagy facilitates macrophage depots of sustained-release nanoformulated antiretroviral drugs

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Long-acting anti-HIV products can substantively change the standard of care for patients with HIV/AIDS. To this end, hydrophobic antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) were recently developed for parenteral administration at monthly or longer intervals. While shorter-acting hydrophilic drugs can be made into nanocarrier-encased prodrugs, the nanocarrier encasement must be boosted to establish long-acting ARV depots. The mixed-lineage kinase 3 (MLK-3) inhibitor URMC-099 provides this function by affecting autophagy. Here, we have shown that URMC-099 facilitates ARV sequestration and its antiretroviral responses by promoting the nuclear translocation of the transcription factor EB (TFEB). In monocyte-derived macrophages, URMC-099 induction of autophagy led to retention of nanoparticles containing the antiretroviral protease inhibitor atazanavir. These nanoparticles were localized within macrophage autophagosomes, leading to a 4-fold enhancement of mitochondrial and cell vitality. In rodents, URMC-099 activation of autophagy led to 50-fold increases in the plasma drug concentration of the viral integrase inhibitor dolutegravir. These data paralleled URMC-099–mediated induction of autophagy and the previously reported antiretroviral responses in HIV-1–infected humanized mice. We conclude that pharmacologic induction of autophagy provides a means to extend the action of a long-acting, slow, effective release of antiretroviral therapy.

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