Drug transporters in tissues and cells relevant to sexual transmission of HIV: Implications for drug delivery

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Abstract

Efflux and uptake transporters of drugs are key regulators of the pharmacokinetics of many antiretroviral drugs. A growing body of literature has revealed the expression and functionality of multiple transporters in female genital tract (FGT), colorectal tissue, and immune cells. Drug transporters could play a significant role in the efficacy of preventative strategies for HIV-1 acquisition. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a promising strategy, which utilizes topically (vaginally or rectally), orally or other systemically administered antiretroviral drugs to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV to receptive partners. The drug concentration in the receptive mucosal tissues and target immune cells for HIV is critical for PrEP effectiveness. Hence, there is an emerging interest in utilizing transporter information to explain tissue disposition patterns of PrEP drugs, to interpret inter-individual variability in PrEP drug pharmacokinetics and effectiveness, and to improve tissue drug exposure through modulation of the cervicovaginal, colorectal, or immune cell transporters. In this review, the existing literature on transporter expression, functionality and regulation in the transmission-related tissues and cells is summarized. In addition, the relevance of transporter function for drug delivery and strategies that could exploit transporters for increased drug concentration at target locales is discussed. The overall goal is to facilitate an understanding of drug transporters for PrEP optimization.

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