Relationships between perceptual attributes and rheology in over-the-counter vaginal products: A potential tool for microbicide development

Ellen D. Mahan, Toral Zaveri, Gregory R. Ziegler, John E. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Vaginal microbicides are believed to have substantial potential to empower women to protect themselves from HIV, although clinical trials to date have had mixed results at best. Issues with patient adherence in these trials suggest additional emphasis should be placed on optimizing acceptability. Acceptability is driven, in part, by the sensory properties of the microbicide, so better understanding of the relationships between sensory properties and the physical and rheological properties of microbicides should facilitate the simultaneous optimization of sensory properties in parallel with the biophysical properties required for drug deployment. Recently, we have applied standard methods to assess the potential acceptability of microbicide prototypes ex vivo and to quantify the sensory properties of microbicide surrogates. Here, we link quantitative perceptual data to the rheological properties of 6 over-the counter (OTC) vaginal products used as ex vivo microbicide surrogates. Shear-thinning behavior (n) and tan δ (10 rad/s) showed no relationship with any perceptual attributes while shear storage modulus, G′ (10 rad/s) was correlated with some attributes, but did not appear to be a strong predictor of sensory properties. Conversely, the storage loss modulus, G″ (10 rad/s) and the consistency coefficient, K, were correlated with several sensory attributes: stickiness, rubberiness, and uniform thickness for G″ and stickiness, rubberiness, and peaking for K. Although these relationships merit confirmation in later studies, this pilot study suggests rheological principles can be used to understand the sensory properties evoked by microbicide surrogates assessed ex vivo. Additional work is needed to determine if these findings would apply for microbicides in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere105614
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 4 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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