Background: Terpenoid derivatives originating from many plants species, are interesting compounds with numerous biological effects, such as anti-HIV-1 activity. The zinc tetra-ascorbo-camphorate complex (or “C14”), a new monoterpenoid derivative was evaluated in vitro for its anti-HIV-1 activity on both R5- and X4-HIV-1 infection of primary target cells (macrophages, dendritic cells and T cells) and on HIV-1 transfer from dendritic cells to T cells.

Results: The toxicity study was carried out in vitro and also with the New Zealand White rabbit vaginal irritation model. C14 was found to be no cytotoxic at high concentrations (CC50 > 10 muM) and showed to be a potential HIV-1 inhibitor of infection of all the primary cells tested (EC50 = 1 muM). No significant changes could be observed in cervicovaginal tissue of rabbit exposed during 10 consecutive days to formulations containing up to 20 muM of C14.

Conclusion: Overall, these preclinical studies suggest that zinc tetra-ascorbo-camphorate derivative is suitable for further testing as a candidate microbicide to prevent male-to-female heterosexual acquisition of HIV-1.