Preventing sexual transmission of HIV: Anti-HIV bioregulatory and homeostatic components of commercial sexual lubricants

D. Nguyen, H. Lee, J. Poast, M. W. Cloyd, Samuel Baron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Certain safe over-the-counter (OTC) sexual lubricants such as Astroglide, KY Liquid, Replens, Vagisil, ViAmor, and Wet Stuff inhibit both cell-free HIV and the production of HIV by infected leukocytes in vitro even in the presence of seminal fluid. To identify which components of the lubricants were active against HIV, we tested five components (glycerin, methylparaben, propylparaben, polyquaternium-32, and propylene glycol). The paraben preservatives and propylene glycol in the lubricants did not inhibit HIV, while the common natural homeostatic metabolite, glycerin, and the thickener polyquaternium-32 did strongly inactivate infectious HIV and HIV-infected leukocytes. Activity against HIV and HIV-infected cells by glycerin was stable through 24 hours at 37°C. Glycerin and polyquaternium-32 were active at minimum concentrations of approximately 2% and 0.01%, respectively - well within the highest FDA safety guidelines. Both active components disrupted infected leukocytes within 5 minutes which resulted in inhibition of infectious HIV production by infected leukocytes of greater than 25 to 100-fold. These components do not disrupt vaginal epithelial cells in vivo. These components also rapidly inactivate cell-free HIV by 10- to 30-fold. Thus, we may conclude that the active components of the OTC lubricants are glycerin and polyquaternium-32. Using these components, OTC sexual lubricants could be reformulated to optimize their anti-HIV activity. Furthermore, clinical trials of these lubricants and components seem to be indicated because of their FDA safety level, wide availability, and low cost.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-274
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of biological regulators and homeostatic agents
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological regulation
  • HIV
  • Lubricants
  • Microbicides
  • Protection
  • Transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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