Predicting pharmacokinetics of a tenofovir alafenamide subcutaneous implant using physiologically based pharmacokinetic modelling

Rajith K.R. Rajoli, Zach R. Demkovic, Charles Flexner, Andrew Owen, Marco Siccardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Long-acting (LA) administration using a subcutaneous (s.c.) implant presents opportunities to simplify administration of antiretroviral drugs, improve pharmacological profiles, and overcome suboptimal adherence associated with daily oral formulations. Tenofovir alafenamide (TAF) is a highly potent nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) and an attractive agent for LA delivery, with a high potency and long intracellular half-life. The aim of this study was to predict minimum TAF doses required to achieve concentrations effective for HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Daily drug release requirements were then ascertained by averaging across the dosing interval. A TAF physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model was developed and partially qualified against available oral single- and multiple-dose pharmacokinetics. The models were assumed to be qualified when simulated values were within 2-fold of the observed mean. TAF s.c. implants were simulated in five hundred individuals, reporting predicted TAF plasma and tenofovir (TFV) plasma concentrations for various release rates. Intracellular TFV diphosphate (TFV-DP) concentrations were also simulated in peripheral blood cells and cervical and rectal tissues. The minimum dose predicted to achieve intracellular TFV-DP levels above a target concentration of 48 fmol/106 cells for a month was identified. TAF, TFV, and TFV-DP concentrations for release rates between 1.0 and 1.6 mg/day were simulated. The PBPK model indicated that a minimum release of 1.4 mg/day TAF is necessary to achieve TFV-DP concentrations above the identified target in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). TFV-DP cervical and rectal tissue concentrations were predicted to be between 1.5 and 2.0 fmol/106 cells and 0.9 and 1.1 fmol/106 cells, respectively, for release rates between 1.3 and 1.6 mg/day. These simulations provide target minimum doses for LA TAF PrEP in humans. Based on the generated results, multiple implants delivering a total of 1.4 mg/day of TAF subcutaneously could provide protection levels for approximately 6 months to 1 year. This modeling may inform future design of s.c. implants to mitigate adherence issues for effective PrEP applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00155-20
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Implanted devices
  • Long acting
  • PBPK
  • Subcutaneous
  • Tenofovir alafenamide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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