The microbicidal efficacies of two anionic surfactants, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and n-lauroylsarcosine (LS), were evaluated in cultured cells and in a murine model of herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) intravaginal infection. In vitro studies showed that SLS and LS were potent inhibitors of the infectivity of HSV-2 strain 333. The concentrations of SLS which inhibit viral infectivity by 50% (50% inhibitory dose) and 90% (90% inhibitory dose) were 32.67 and 46.53 μM, respectively, whereas the corresponding values for LS were 141.76 and 225.30 μM. In addition, intravaginal pretreatment of mice with thermoreversible gel formulations containing 2.5% SLS or 2.5% LS prior to the inoculation of HSV-2 strain 333 completely prevented the development of genital herpetic lesions and the lethality associated with infection. Of prime interest, no infectious virus could be detected in mouse vaginal mucosa. Both formulations still provided significant protection when viral challenge was delayed until 1 h after pretreatment. Finally, intravaginal application of gel formulations containing 2.5% SLS or 2.5% LS once daily for 14 days to rabbits did not induce significant irritations to the genital mucosa, as demonstrated from macroscopic and histopathologic examinations. These results suggest that thermoreversible gel formulations containing SLS or LS could represent potent and safe topical microbicides for the prevention of HSV-2 and possibly other sexually transmitted pathogens, including human immunodeficiency virus
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