• Human airway mucus alters susceptibility of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms to tobramycin, but not colistin.

      Müller, Laura; Murgia, Xabier; Siebenbürger, Lorenz; Börger, Carsten; Schwarzkopf, Konrad; Sewald, Katherina; Häussler, Susanne; Braun, Armin; Lehr, Claus-Michael; Hittinger, Marius; et al.
      Objectives: In the context of cystic fibrosis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms often develop in the vicinity of airway mucus, which acts as a protective physical barrier to inhaled matter. However, mucus can also adsorb small drug molecules administered as aerosols, including antibiotics, thereby reducing their bioavailability. The efficacy of antibiotics is typically assessed by determining the MIC using in vitro assays. This widespread technique, however, does not consider either bacterial biofilm formation or the influence of mucus, both of which may act as diffusion barriers, potentially limiting antibiotic efficacy. Methods: We grew P. aeruginosa biofilms in the presence or absence of human tracheal mucus and tested their susceptibility to tobramycin and colistin. Results: A significant reduction of tobramycin efficacy was observed when P. aeruginosa biofilms were grown in the presence of mucus compared with those grown in the absence of mucus. Diffusion of tobramycin through mucus was reduced; however, this reduction was more pronounced in biofilm/mucus mixtures, suggesting that biofilms in the presence of mucus respond differently to antibiotic treatment. In contrast, the influence of mucus on colistin efficacy was almost negligible and no differences in mucus permeability were observed. Conclusions: These findings underline the important role of mucus in the efficacy of anti-infective drugs.
    • Itaconic Acid Increases the Efficacy of Tobramycin against Biofilms.

      Ho, Duy-Khiet; de Rossi, Chiara; Loretz, Brigitta; Murgia, Xabier; Lehr, Claus-Michael; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-07-22)
      The search for novel therapeutics against pulmonary infections, in particular Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) biofilm infections, has been intense to deal with the emergent rise of antimicrobial resistance. Despite the numerous achievements in drug discovery and delivery strategies, only a limited number of therapeutics reach the clinic. To allow a timely preclinical development, a formulation should be highly effective, safe, and most importantly facile to produce. Thus, a simple combination of known actives that enhances the therapeutic efficacy would be a preferential choice compared to advanced drug delivery systems. In this study, we propose a novel combination of an anti-inflammatory agent-itaconic acid (itaconate, IA)-and an approved antibiotic-tobramycin (Tob) or ciprofloxacin (Cipro). The combination of Tob and IA at a molar ratio of 1:5 increased the biofilm eradicating efficacy in the strain PA14 wild type (wt) by ~4-fold compared to Tob alone. In contrast, such effect was not observed for the combination of IA with Cipro. Subsequent studies on the influence of IA on bacterial growth, pyocyanin production, and Tob biofilm penetration indicated that complexation with IA enhanced the transport of Tob through the biofilm. We recommend the simple and effective combination of Tob:IA for further testing in advanced preclinical models of PA biofilm infections.
    • Vibrational spectroscopic imaging and live cell video microscopy for studying differentiation of primary human alveolar epithelial cells.

      Vukosavljevic, Branko; Hittinger, Marius; Hachmeister, Henning; Pilger, Christian; Murgia, Xabier; Gepp, Michael M; Gentile, Luca; Huwer, Hanno; Schneider-Daum, Nicole; Huser, Thomas; et al. (Wiley-VCH, 2019-02-20)
    • Polysaccharide Submicrocarrier for Improved Pulmonary Delivery of Poorly Soluble Anti-infective Ciprofloxacin: Preparation, Characterization, and Influence of Size on Cellular Uptake.

      Ho, Duy-Khiet; Costa, Ana; de Rossi, Chiara; de Souza Carvalho-Wodarz, Cristiane; Loretz, Brigitta; Lehr, Claus-Michael; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (American Chemical Society, 2018-02-21)
      The majority of the currently used and developed anti-infectives are poorly water-soluble molecules. The poor solubility might lead to limited bioavailability and pharmacological action of the drug. Novel pharmaceutical materials have thus been designed to solve those problems and improve drug delivery. In this study, we propose a facile method to produce submicrocarriers (sMCs) by electrostatic gelation of anionic ß-cyclodextrin (aß-CD) and chitosan. The average hydrodynamic size ranged from 400 to 900 nm by carefully adjusting polymer concentrations and N/C ratio. The distinct host-guest reaction of cyclodextrin derivative is considered as a good approach to enhance solubility, and prevent drug recrystallization, and thus was used to develop sMC to improve the controlled release profile of a poorly soluble and clinically relevant anti-infective ciprofloxacin. The optimal molar ratio of ciprofloxacin to aß-CD was found to be 1:1, which helped maximize encapsulation efficiency (∼90%) and loading capacity (∼9%) of ciprofloxacin loaded sMCs. Furthermore, to recommend the future application of the developed sMCs, the dependence of cell uptake on sMCs size (500, 700, and 900 nm) was investigated in vitro on dTHP-1 by both flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. The results demonstrate that, regardless of their size, an only comparatively small fraction of the sMCs were taken up by the macrophage-like cells, while most of the carriers were merely adsorbed to the cell surface after 2 h incubation. After continuing the incubation to reach 24 h, the majority of the sMCs were found intracellularly. However, the sMCs had been designed to release sufficient amount of drug within 24 h, and the subsequent phagocytosis of the carrier may be considered as an efficient pathway for its safe degradation and elimination. In summary, the developed sMC is a suitable system with promising perspectives recommended for pulmonary extracellular infection therapeutics.
    • Squalenyl Hydrogen Sulfate Nanoparticles for Simultaneous Delivery of Tobramycin and an Alkylquinolone Quorum Sensing Inhibitor Enable the Eradication of P. aeruginosa Biofilm Infections.

      Ho, Duy-Khiet; Murgia, Xabier; de Rossi, Chiara; Christmann, Rebekka; Hüfner de Mello Martins, Antonio G; Koch, Marcus; Andreas, Anastasia; Herrmann, Jennifer; Müller, Rolf; Empting, Martin; et al. (Wiley, 2020-04-03)
      Elimination of pulmonary Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) infections is challenging to accomplish with antibiotic therapies, mainly due to resistance mechanisms. Quorum sensing inhibitors (QSIs) interfering with biofilm formation can thus complement antibiotics. For simultaneous and improved delivery of both active agents to the infection sites, self-assembling nanoparticles of a newly synthesized squalenyl hydrogen sulfate (SqNPs) were prepared. These nanocarriers allowed for remarkably high loading capacities of hydrophilic antibiotic tobramycin (Tob) and a novel lipophilic QSI at 30 % and circa 10 %, respectively. The drug-loaded SqNPs showed improved biofilm penetration and enhanced efficacy in relevant biological barriers (mucin/human tracheal mucus, biofilm), leading to complete eradication of PA biofilms at circa 16-fold lower Tob concentration than Tob alone. This study offers a viable therapy optimization and invigorates the research and development of QSIs for clinical use.
    • Advancing human pulmonary disease models in preclinical research: opportunities for lung-on-chips..

      Artzy-Schnirman, Arbel; Lehr, Claus-Michael; Sznitman, Josué; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Taylor&Francis, 2020-03-11)
      [No abstracr available]
    • In vitro characterization and in vivo comparison of the pulmonary outcomes of Poractant alfa and Calsurf in ventilated preterm rabbits.

      Guo, Xiaojing; Luo, Siwei; Amidani, Davide; Rivetti, Claudio; Pieraccini, Giuseppe; Pioselli, Barbara; Catinella, Silvia; Murgia, Xabi; Salomone, Fabrizio; Xu, Yaling; et al. (PLOS, 2020-03-13)
      Poractant alfa and Calsurf are two natural surfactants widely used in China for the treatment of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, which are extracted from porcine and calf lungs, respectively. The purpose of this experimental study was to compare their in vitro characteristics and in vivo effects in the improvement of pulmonary function and protection of lung injury. The biophysical properties, ultrastructure, and lipid composition of both surfactant preparations were respectively analysed in vitro by means of Langmuir-Blodgett trough (LBT), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and liquid-chromatography mass-spectrometry (LC-MS). Then, as core pharmacological activity, both head-to-head (100 and 200 mg/kg for both surfactants) and licensed dose comparisons (70 mg/kg Calsurf vs. 200 mg/kg Poractant alfa) between the two surfactants were conducted as prophylaxis in preterm rabbits with primary surfactant deficiency, assessing survival time and rate and dynamic compliance of the respiratory system (Cdyn). Intrapulmonary surfactant pools, morphometric volume density as alveolar expansion (Vv), and lung injury scores were determined post mortem. AFM and LC-MS analysis revealed qualitative differences in the ultrastructure as well as in the lipid composition of both preparations. Calsurf showed a longer plateau region of the LBT isotherm and lower film compressibility. In vivo, both surfactant preparations improved Cdyn at any dose, although maximum benefits in terms of Vv and intrapulmonary surfactant pools were seen with the 200 mg/kg dose in both surfactants. The group of animals treated with 200 mg/kg of Poractant alfa showed a prolonged survival time and rate compared to untreated but ventilated controls, and significantly ameliorated lung injury compared to Calsurf at any dose, including 200 mg/kg. The overall outcomes suggest the pulmonary effects to be dose dependent for both preparations. The group of animals treated with 200 mg/kg of Poractant alfa showed a significant reduction of mortality. Compared to Calsurf, Poractant alfa exerted better effects if licensed doses were compared, which requires further investigation.
    • Safety assessment of excipients (SAFE) for orally inhaled drug products.

      Metz, Julia K; Scharnowske, Lara; Hans, Fabian; Schnur, Sabrina; Knoth, Katharina; Zimmer, Horst; Limberger, Markus; Groß, Henrik; Lehr, Claus Michael; Hittinger, Marius; et al. (Springer, 2020-01-29)
      The development of new orally inhaled drug products requires the demonstration of safety which must be proven in animal experiments. New in vitro methods may replace, or at least reduce, these animal experiments provided they are able to correctly predict the safety or eventual toxicity in humans. However, the challenge is to link human in vitro data to human in vivo data. We here present a new approach to the safety assessment of excipients (SAFE) for pulmonary drug delivery. The SAFE model is based on a dose response curve of 23 excipients tested on the human pulmonary epithelial cell lines A549 and Calu-3. The resulting in vitro IC50 values were correlated with the FDA-approved concentration in pharmaceutical products for either pulmonary (if available) or parenteral administration. Setting a threshold of 0.1% (1 mg/mL) for either value yielded four safety classes, allowed to link IC50 data as measured on human cell cultures in vitro with the concentrations of the same compounds in FDA-approved drug products. The necessary in vitro data for novel excipients can be easily generated while the SAFE approach allows putting them in the context for eventual use in human pulmonary drug products. Excipients, that are most likely not safe for use in humans, can be early excluded from further pharmaceutical development. The SAFE approach helps thus to avoid unnecessary animal experiments.
    • Coupling quaternary ammonium surfactants to the surface of liposomes improves both antibacterial efficacy and host cell biocompatibility

      Montefusco-Pereira, Carlos V.; Formicola, Beatrice; Goes, Adriely; Re, Francesca; Marrano, Claudia A.; Mantegazza, Francesco; Carvalho-Wodarz, Cristiane; Fuhrmann, Gregor; Caneva, Enrico; Nicotra, Francesco; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2020-04)
      By functionalizing the surface of PEG-liposomes with linkers bearing quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs), we generated novel bacteria disruptors with anti-adhesive properties and reduced cytotoxicity compared to free QACs. Furthermore, QAC-functionalized liposomes are a promising platform for future drug encapsulation. The QAC (11-mercaptoundecyl)-N,N,N-trimethylammonium bromide (MTAB) was attached to maleimide-functionalized liposomes (DSPE-PEG) via thiol linker. The MTAB-functionalized liposomes were physicochemically characterized and their biological activity, in terms of anti-adherence activity and biofilm prevention in Escherichia coli were assessed. The results showed that MTAB-functionalized liposomes inhibit bacterial adherence and biofilm formation while reducing MTAB toxicity.
    • Circulating Lipoproteins: A Trojan Horse Guiding Squalenoylated Drugs to LDL-Accumulating Cancer Cells.

      Sobot, Dunja; Mura, Simona; Rouquette, Marie; Vukosavljevic, Branko; Cayre, Fanny; Buchy, Eric; Pieters, Grégory; Garcia-Argote, Sébastien; Windbergs, Maike; Desmaële, Didier; et al. (2017-07-05)
      Selective delivery of anticancer drugs to rapidly growing cancercells can be achieved by taking advantage of their high receptor-mediated uptake of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). Indeed, wehave recently discovered that nanoparticles made of the squa-lene derivative of the anticancer agent gemcitabine (SQGem)strongly interacted with the LDLs in the human blood. In thepresent study, we showed both in vitro and in vivo that suchinteraction led to the preferential accumulation of SQGem incancer cells (MDA-MB-231) with high LDL receptor expression.As a result, an improved pharmacological activity has beenobserved in MDA-MB-231 tumor-bearing mice, an experi-mental model with a low sensitivity to gemcitabine. Accord-ingly, we proved that the use of squalene moieties not onlyinduced the gemcitabine insertion into lipoproteins, but thatit could also be exploited to indirectly target cancer cells in vivo.
    • PLGA nanocapsules improve the delivery of clarithromycin to kill intracellular Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium abscessus.

      Anversa Dimer, Frantiescoli; de Souza Carvalho-Wodarz, Cristiane; Goes, Adriely; Cirnski, Katarina; Herrmann, Jennifer; Schmitt, Viktoria; Pätzold, Linda; Abed, Nadia; de Rossi, Chiara; Bischoff, Markus; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-11-18)
      Drug delivery systems are promising for targeting antibiotics directly to infected tissues. To reach intracellular Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium abscessus, we encapsulated clarithromycin in PLGA nanocapsules, suitable for aerosol delivery by nebulization of an aqueous dispersion. Compared to the same dose of free clarithromycin, nanoencapsulation reduced 1000 times the number of intracellular S. aureus in vitro. In RAW cells, while untreated S. aureus was located in acidic compartments, the treated ones were mostly situated in non-acidic compartments. Clarithromycin-nanocapsules were also effective against M. abscessus (70-80% killing efficacy). The activity of clarithromycin-nanocapsules against S. aureus was also confirmed in vivo, using a murine wound model as well as in zebrafish. The permeability of clarithromycin-nanocapsules across Calu-3 monolayers increased in comparison to the free drug, suggesting an improved delivery to sub-epithelial tissues. Thus, clarithromycin-nanocapsules are a promising strategy to target intracellular S. aureus and M. abscessus.
    • The synergistic effect of chlorotoxin-mApoE in boosting drug-loaded liposomes across the BBB.

      Formicola, Beatrice; Dal Magro, Roberta; Montefusco-Pereira, Carlos V; Lehr, Claus-Michael; Koch, Marcus; Russo, Laura; Grasso, Gianvito; Deriu, Marco A; Danani, Andrea; Bourdoulous, Sandrine; et al. (BMC, 2019-11-11)
      We designed liposomes dually functionalized with ApoE-derived peptide (mApoE) and chlorotoxin (ClTx) to improve their blood-brain barrier (BBB) crossing. Our results demonstrated the synergistic activity of ClTx-mApoE in boosting doxorubicin-loaded liposomes across the BBB, keeping the anti-tumour activity of the drug loaded: mApoE acts promoting cellular uptake, while ClTx promotes exocytosis of liposomes.
    • Capturing the Onset of Bacterial Pulmonary Infection in Acini-On-Chips

      Artzy-Schnirman, Arbel; Zidan, Hikaia; Elias-Kirma, Shani; Ben-Porat, Lee; Tenenbaum-Katan, Janna; Carius, Patrick; Fishler, Ramy; Schneider-Daum, Nicole; Lehr, Claus Michael; Sznitman, Josué (Wiley-VCH, 2019-09-01)
    • OCTN2-mediated acetyl-l-carnitine transport in human pulmonary epithelial cells in vitro

      Salomon, Johanna J.; Gausterer, Julia C.; Selo, Mohammed Ali; Hosoya, Ken Ichi; Huwer, Hanno; Schneider-Daum, Nicole; Lehr, Claus Michael; Ehrhardt, Carsten; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (MPDI, 2019-08-01)
      The carnitine transporter OCTN2 is associated with asthma and other inflammatory diseases. The aims of this work were (i) to determine carnitine uptake into freshly isolated human alveolar type I (ATI)-like epithelial cells in primary culture, (ii) to compare the kinetics of carnitine uptake between respiratory epithelial in vitro cell models, and (iii) to establish whether any cell line was a suitable model for studies of carnitine transport at the air-blood barrier. Levels of time-dependent [3H]-acetyl-l-carnitine uptake were similar in ATI-like, NCl-H441, and Calu-3 epithelial cells, whereas uptake into A549 cells was ~5 times higher. Uptake inhibition was more pronounced by OCTN2 modulators, such as l-Carnitine and verapamil, in ATI-like primary epithelial cells compared to NCl-H441 and Calu-3 epithelial cells. Our findings suggest that OCTN2 is involved in the cellular uptake of acetyl-l-carnitine at the alveolar epithelium and that none of the tested cell lines are optimal surrogates for primary cells.
    • Preferential uptake of chitosan-coated PLGA nanoparticles by primary human antigen presenting cells.

      Durán, Verónica; Yasar, Hanzey; Becker, Jennifer; Thiyagarajan, Durairaj; Loretz, Brigitta; Kalinke, Ulrich; Lehr, Claus-Michael; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-07-31)
      Biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles (NP) made from poly (lactid-co-glycolide) acid (PLGA) and chitosan (CS) hold promise as innovative formulations for targeted delivery. Since interactions of such NP with primary human immune cells have not been characterized, yet, here we assessed the effect of PLGA or CS-PLGA NP treatment on human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), as well as on monocyte-derived DC (moDC). Amongst PBMC, antigen presenting cells (APC) showed higher uptake of both NP preparations than lymphocytes. Furthermore, moDC internalized CS-PLGA NP more efficiently than PLGA NP, presumably because of receptor-mediated endocytosis. Consequently, CS-PLGA NP were delivered mostly to endosomal compartments, whereas PLGA NP primarily ended up in lysosomes. Thus, CS-PLGA NP confer enhanced delivery to endosomal compartments of APC, offering new therapeutic options to either induce or modulate APC function and to inhibit pathogens that preferentially infect APC.
    • Challenges and Strategies in Drug Delivery Systems for Treatment of Pulmonary Infections.

      Ho, Duy-Khiet; Nichols, Brittany L B; Edgar, Kevin J; Murgia, Xabier; Loretz, Brigitta; Lehr, Claus-Michael; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-09-04)
      Inhalation therapy has been reported as the most effective treatment for respiratory bacterial infections due to the increasing relevance of drug bioavailability. Drug delivery systems (DDS) have the capacity to overcome pulmonary biological barriers limiting the bioavailability of inhaled anti-infectives. This is important to eradicate bacterial infections and to prevent the development of bacterial resistance. Despite substantial efforts in the field, the current state-of-the-art often fails to achieve those goals, and we still observe increasing bacterial resistance. We give a brief insight on benefits and challenges in pulmonary delivery of anti-infectives. In the context of drug delivery development for pulmonary infections, particularly focusing on Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) infections, this mini review will critically discuss the main requirements, as well as the recent strategies of drug delivery system synthesis and preparation. Finally, interaction of DDS with crucial pulmonary biological barriers will be of great importance for the success of future applications of the developed DDS.
    • Advanced in vitro lung-on-chip platforms for inhalation assays: From prospect to pipeline.

      Artzy-Schnirman, Arbel; Hobi, Nina; Schneider-Daum, Nicole; Guenat, Olivier T; Lehr, Claus-Michael; Sznitman, Josué; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-09-06)
      With rapid advances in micro-fabrication processes and the availability of biologically-relevant lung cells, the development of lung-on-chip platforms is offering novel avenues for more realistic inhalation assays in pharmaceutical research, and thereby an opportunity to depart from traditional in vitro lung assays. As advanced models capturing the cellular pulmonary make-up at an air-liquid interface (ALI), lung-on-chips emulate both morphological features and biological functionality of the airway barrier with the ability to integrate respiratory breathing motions and ensuing tissue strains. Such in vitro systems allow importantly to mimic more realistic physiological respiratory flow conditions, with the opportunity to integrate physically-relevant transport determinants of aerosol inhalation therapy, i.e. recapitulating the pathway from airborne flight to deposition on the airway lumen. In this short opinion, we discuss such points and describe how these attributes are paving new avenues for exploring improved drug carrier designs (e.g. shape, size, etc.) and targeting strategies (e.g. conductive vs. respiratory regions) amongst other. We argue that while technical challenges still lie along the way in rendering in vitro lung-on-chip platforms more widespread across the general pharmaceutical research community, significant momentum is steadily underway in accelerating the prospect of establishing these as in vitro "gold standards"
    • Bioinspired Liposomes for Oral Delivery of Colistin to Combat Intracellular Infections by Salmonella enterica.

      Menina, Sara; Eisenbeis, Janina; Kamal, Mohamed Ashraf M; Koch, Marcus; Bischoff, Markus; Gordon, Sarah; Loretz, Brigitta; Lehr, Claus-Michael; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2019-07-22)
      Bacterial invasion into eukaryotic cells and the establishment of intracellular infection has proven to be an effective means of resisting antibiotic action, as anti-infective agents commonly exhibit a poor permeability across the host cell membrane. Encapsulation of anti-infectives into nanoscaled delivery systems, such as liposomes, is shown to result in an enhancement of intracellular delivery. The aim of the current work is, therefore, to formulate colistin, a poorly permeable anti-infective, into liposomes suitable for oral delivery, and to functionalize these carriers with a bacteria-derived invasive moiety to enhance their intracellular delivery. Different combinations of phospholipids and cholesterol are explored to optimize liposomal drug encapsulation and stability in biorelevant media. These liposomes are then surface-functionalized with extracellular adherence protein (Eap), derived from Staphylococcus aureus. Treatment of HEp-2 and Caco-2 cells infected with Salmonella enterica using colistin-containing, Eap-functionalized liposomes resulted in a significant reduction of intracellular bacteria, in comparison to treatment with nonfunctionalized liposomes as well as colistin alone. This indicates that such bio-invasive carriers are able to facilitate intracellular delivery of colistin, as necessary for intracellular anti-infective activity. The developed Eap-functionalized liposomes, therefore, present a promising strategy for improving the therapy of intracellular infections.
    • Co-culture of human alveolar epithelial (hAELVi) and macrophage (THP-1) cell lines.

      Kletting, Stephanie; Barthold, Sarah; Repnik, Urska; Griffiths, Gareth; Loretz, Brigitta; Schneider-Daum, Nicole; de Souza Carvalho-Wodarz, Cristiane; Lehr, Claus-Michael; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Springer Nature, 2018-01-01)
      The air-blood barrier is mainly composed of alveolar epithelial cells and macrophages. Whereas the epithelium acts as a diffusional barrier, macrophages represent an immunological barrier, in particular for larger molecules and nanoparticles. This paper describes a new co-culture of human cell lines representing both cell types. Acquiring, culturing and maintaining primary alveolar epithelial cells presents significant logistical and technical difficulties. The recently established human alveolar epithelial lentivirus immortalized cell line, hAELVi, when grown on permeable filters, forms monolayers with high functional and morphological resemblance to alveolar type I cells. To model alveolar macrophages, the human cell line THP-1 was seeded on pre-formed hAELVi monolayers. The co-culture was characterized regarding cellular morphology, viability and barrier function. Macrophages were homogenously distributed on the epithelium and could be kept in co-culture for up to 7 days. Transmission electron microscopy showed loose contact between THP-1 and hAELVi cells. When grown at air liquid interface, both cells were covered with extracellular matrix-like structure, which was absent in THP-1 mono-culture. In co-culture with macrophages, hAELVi cells displayed similar, sometimes even higher, transepithelial electrical resistance than in mono-cultures. When exposed to silver and starch nanoparticles, hAELVi mono-cultures were more tolerant to the particles than THP-1 mono-cultures. Viability in the co-culture was similar to that of hAELVi mono-cultures. Transport studies with sodium fluorescein in the presence/absence of EDTA proved that the co-culture acts as functional diffusion barrier. These data demonstrate that hAELVi-/THP-1 co-cultures represent a promising model for safety and permeability studies of inhaled chemicals, drugs and nanoparticles.
    • The role of mucus on drug transport and its potential to affect therapeutic outcomes.

      Murgia, Xabier; Loretz, Brigitta; Hartwig, Olga; Hittinger, Marius; Lehr, Claus-Michael; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Elsevier, 2018-01-15)
      A layer of mucus covers the surface of all wet epithelia throughout the human body. Mucus is a hydrogel mainly composed of water, mucins (glycoproteins), DNA, proteins, lipids, and cell debris. This complex composition yields a tenacious viscoelastic hydrogel that lubricates and protects the exposed epithelia from external threats and enzymatic degradation. The natural protective role of mucus is nowadays acknowledged as a major barrier to be overcome in non-invasive drug delivery. The heterogeneity of mucus components offers a wide range of potential chemical interaction sites for macromolecules, while the mesh-like architecture given to mucus by the intermolecular cross-linking of mucin molecules results in a dense network that physically, and in a size-dependent manner, hinders the diffusion of nanoparticles through mucus. Consequently, drug diffusion, epithelial absorption, drug bioavailability, and ultimately therapeutic outcomes of mucosal drug delivery can be attenuated