Toward eradicating HIV reservoirs in the brain: Inhibiting P-glycoprotein at the blood-brain barrier with prodrug abacavir dimers

Hilda A. Namanja, Dana Emmert, David A. Davis, Christopher Campos, David S. Miller, Christine A. Hrycyna, Jean Chmielewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations


Eradication of HIV reservoirs in the brain necessitates penetration of antiviral agents across the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a process limited by drug efflux proteins such as P-glycoprotein (P-gp) at the membrane of brain capillary endothelial cells. We present an innovative chemical strategy toward the goal of therapeutic brain penetration of the P-gp substrate and antiviral agent abacavir, in conjunction with a traceless tether. Dimeric prodrugs of abacavir were designed to have two functions: inhibit P-gp efflux at the BBB and revert to monomeric therapeutic within cellular reducing environments. The prodrug dimers are potent P-gp inhibitors in cell culture and in a brain capillary model of the BBB. Significantly, these agents demonstrate anti-HIV activity in two T-cell-based HIV assays, a result that is linked to cellular reversion of the prodrug to abacavir. This strategy represents a platform technology that may be applied to other therapies with limited brain penetration due to P-glycoprotein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2976-2980
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 15 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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