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Rapamycin-loaded polymeric nanoparticles as an advanced formulation for macrophage targeting in atherosclerosis

  • Autori: Craparo E.F.; Cabibbo M.; Conigliaro A.; Barreca M.M.; Musumeci T.; Giammona G.; Cavallaro G.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2021
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Recently, rapamycin (Rapa) represents a potential drug treatment to induce regression of atherosclerotic plaques; however, its use requires site-specific accumulation in the vessels involved in the formation of the plaques to avoid the systemic effects resulting from its indiscriminate biodistribution. In this work, a stable pharmaceutical formulation for Rapa was realized as a dried powder to be dispersed extemporaneously before administration. The latter was constituted by man-nitol (Man) as an excipient and a Rapa-loaded polymeric nanoparticle carrier. These nanoparticles were obtained by nanoprecipitation and using as a starting polymeric material a polycaprolactone (PCL)/α,β-poly(N-2-hydroxyethyl)-DL-aspartamide (PHEA) graft copolymer. To obtain nanoparti-cles targeted to macrophages, an oxidized phospholipid with a high affinity for the CD36 receptor of macrophages, the 1-(palmitoyl)-2-(5-keto-6-octene-dioyl) phosphatidylcholine (KOdia-PC), was added to the starting organic phase. The chemical–physical and technological characterization of the obtained nanoparticles demonstrated that: both the drug loading (DL%) and the entrapment efficiency (EE%) entrapped drug are high; the entrapped drug is in the amorphous state, protected from degradation and slowly released from the polymeric matrix; and the KOdia-PC is on the nanoparticle surface (KP-Nano). The biological characterization demonstrated that both systems are quickly internalized by macrophages while maintaining the activity of the drug. In vitro studies demonstrated that the effect of KP-Nano Rapa-loaded, in reducing the amount of the Phospo-Ser757-ULK1 protein through the inhibition of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), is comparable to that of the free drug.