• miRNA92a targets KLF2 and the phosphatase PTEN signaling to promote human T follicular helper precursors in T1D islet autoimmunity.

      Serr, Isabelle; Fürst, Rainer W; Ott, Verena B; Scherm, Martin G; Nikolaev, Alexei; Gökmen, Füsun; Kälin, Stefanie; Zillmer, Stephanie; Bunk, Melanie; Weigmann, Benno; et al. (2016)
      Aberrant immune activation mediated by T effector cell populations is pivotal in the onset of autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes (T1D). T follicular helper (TFH) cells are essential in the induction of high-affinity antibodies, and their precursor memory compartment circulates in the blood. The role of TFH precursors in the onset of islet autoimmunity and signaling pathways regulating their differentiation is incompletely understood. Here, we provide direct evidence that during onset of islet autoimmunity, the insulin-specific target T-cell population is enriched with a C-X-C chemokine receptor type 5 (CXCR5)+CD4+ TFH precursor phenotype. During onset of islet autoimmunity, the frequency of TFH precursors was controlled by high expression of microRNA92a (miRNA92a). miRNA92a-mediated TFH precursor induction was regulated by phosphatase and tension homolog (PTEN) - phosphoinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling involving PTEN and forkhead box protein O1 (Foxo1), supporting autoantibody generation and triggering the onset of islet autoimmunity. Moreover, we identify Krueppel-like factor 2 (KLF2) as a target of miRNA92a in regulating human TFH precursor induction. Importantly, a miRNA92a antagomir completely blocked induction of human TFH precursors in vitro. More importantly, in vivo application of a miRNA92a antagomir to nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice with ongoing islet autoimmunity resulted in a significant reduction of TFH precursors in peripheral blood and pancreatic lymph nodes. Moreover, miRNA92a antagomir application reduced immune infiltration and activation in pancreata of NOD mice as well as humanized NOD Scid IL2 receptor gamma chain knockout (NSG) human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DQ8 transgenic animals. We therefore propose that miRNA92a and the PTEN-PI3K-KLF2 signaling network could function as targets for innovative precision medicines to reduce T1D islet autoimmunity.
    • A Model for the Transient Subdiffusive Behavior of Particles in Mucus.

      Ernst, Matthias; John, Thomas; Guenther, Marco; Wagner, Christian; Schaefer, Ulrich F; Lehr, Claus-Michael; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus 8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-01-10)
      In this study we have applied a model to explain the reported subdiffusion of particles in mucus, based on the measured mean squared displacements (MSD). The model considers Brownian diffusion of particles in a confined geometry, made from permeable membranes. The applied model predicts a normal diffusive behavior at very short and long time lags, as observed in several experiments. In between these timescales, we find that the "subdiffusive" regime is only a transient effect, MSD∝τ
    • Modeling the human skin barrier--towards a better understanding of dermal absorption.

      Hansen, Steffi; Lehr, Claus-Michael; Schaefer, Ulrich F (2013-02)
    • Modulating the Barrier Function of Human Alveolar Epithelial (hAELVi) Cell Monolayers as a Model of Inflammation.

      Metz, Julia Katharina; Wiegand, Birgit; Schnur, Sabrina; Knoth, Katharina; Schneider-Daum, Nicole; Groß, Henrik; Croston, Glenn; Reinheimer, Torsten Michael; Lehr, Claus-Michael; Hittinger, Marius; et al. (SAGE Publications, 2021-01-29)
      The incidence of inflammatory lung diseases such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) remains an important problem, particularly in the present time with the Covid-19 pandemic. However, an adequate in vitro test system to monitor the barrier function of the alveolar epithelium during inflammation and for assessing anti-inflammatory drugs is urgently needed. Therefore, we treated human Alveolar Epithelial Lentivirus-immortalised cells (hAELVi cells) with the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α (25 ng/ml) and IFN-γ (30 ng/ml), in the presence or absence of hydrocortisone (HC). While TNF-α and IFN-γ are known to reduce epithelial barrier properties, HC could be expected to protect the barrier function and result in an anti-inflammatory effect. We investigated the impact of anti-inflammatory/inflammatory treatment on transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and the apparent permeability coefficient (P app ) of the low permeability marker sodium fluorescein (NaFlu). After incubating hAELVi cells for 48 hours with a combination of TNF-α and IFN-γ, there was a significant decrease in TEER and a significant increase in the P app . The presence of HC maintained the TEER values and barrier properties, so that no significant P app change was observed. By using hAELVi cells to study anti-inflammatory drugs in vitro, the need for animal experiments could be reduced and pulmonary drug development accelerated.
    • Nanocarriers for optimizing the balance between interfollicular permeation and follicular uptake of topically applied clobetasol to minimize adverse effects.

      Mathes, C; Melero, A; Conrad, P; Vogt, T; Rigo, L; Selzer, D; Prado, W A; De Rossi, C; Garrigues, T M; Hansen, S; et al. (2016-02-10)
      The treatment of various hair disorders has become a central focus of good dermatologic patient care as it affects men and women all over the world. For many inflammatory-based scalp diseases, glucocorticoids are an essential part of treatment, even though they are known to cause systemic as well as local adverse effects when applied topically. Therefore, efficient targeting and avoidance of these side effects are of utmost importance. Optimizing the balance between drug release, interfollicular permeation, and follicular uptake may allow minimizing these adverse events and simultaneously improve drug delivery, given that one succeeds in targeting a sustained release formulation to the hair follicle. To test this hypothesis, three types of polymeric nanocarriers (nanospheres, nanocapsules, lipid-core nanocapsules) for the potent glucocorticoid clobetasol propionate (CP) were prepared. They all exhibited a sustained release of drug, as was desired. The particles were formulated as a dispersion and hydrogel and (partially) labeled with Rhodamin B for quantification purposes. Follicular uptake was investigated using the Differential Stripping method and was found highest for nanocapsules in dispersion after application of massage. Moreover, the active ingredient (CP) as well as the nanocarrier (Rhodamin B labeled polymer) recovered in the hair follicle were measured simultaneously, revealing an equivalent uptake of both. In contrast, only negligible amounts of CP could be detected in the hair follicle when applied as free drug in solution or hydrogel, regardless of any massage. Skin permeation experiments using heat-separated human epidermis mounted in Franz Diffusion cells revealed equivalent reduced transdermal permeability for all nanocarriers in comparison to application of the free drug. Combining these results, nanocapsules formulated as an aqueous dispersion and applied by massage appeare to be a good candidate to maximize follicular targeting and minimize drug penetration into the interfollicular epidermis. We conclude that such nanotechnology-based formulations provide a viable strategy for more efficient drug delivery to the hair follicle. Moreover, they present a way to minimize adverse effects of potent glucocorticoids by releasing the drug in a controlled manner and simultaneously decreasing interfollicular permeation, offering an advantage over conventional formulations for inflammatory-based skin/scalp diseases.
    • Nanoencapsulation of a glucocorticoid improves barrier function and anti-inflammatory effect on monolayers of pulmonary epithelial cell lines.

      Rigo, Lucas A; Carvalho-Wodarz, Cristiane S; Pohlmann, Adriana R; Guterres, Silvia S; Schneider-Daum, Nicole; Lehr, Claus Michael; Beck, Ruy C R; Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland [HIPS], Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-05-13)
      The anti-inflammatory effect of polymeric deflazacort nanocapsules (NC-DFZ) was investigated, and possible improvement of epithelial barrier function using filter grown monolayers of A549 and Calu-3 using as models was assessed. NC prepared from poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) had a mean size around 200 nm, slightly negative zeta potential (∼ - 8 mV), and low polydispersity index (< 0.10). Encapsulation of DFZ had an efficiency of 85%. No cytotoxic effects were observed at particle concentration of 9.85 x 10(11) NC/ml, which was therefore chosen to evaluate the effect of NC-DFZ at 1% (w/v) of PCL and 0.5% (w/v) of DFZ on the epithelial barrier function of Calu-3 monolayers. Nanoencapsulated drug at 0.5% (w/v) increased transepithelial electrical resistance and decrease permeability of the paracellular marker sodium fluorescein, while non-encapsulated DFZ failed to improve these parameters. Moreover, NC-DFZ reduced the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) mediated secretion of the inflammatory marker IL-8. In vitro dissolution testing revealed controlled release of DFZ from nanocapsules, which may explain the improved effect of DFZ on the cells. These data suggest that nanoencapsulation of pulmonary delivered corticosteroids could be advantageous for the treatment of inflammatory conditions, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
    • Nanomedicines for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases

      Ali, Hussain; Collnot, Eva-Maria; Windbergs, Maike; Lehr, Claus-Michael (2013-09-20)
    • A New PqsR Inverse Agonist Potentiates Tobramycin Efficacy to Eradicate Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms

      Schütz, Christian; Ho, Duy‐Khiet; Hamed, Mostafa Mohamed; Abdelsamie, Ahmed Saad; Röhrig, Teresa; Herr, Christian; Kany, Andreas Martin; Rox, Katharina; Schmelz, Stefan; Siebenbürger, Lorenz; et al. (Wiley and Sons Inc., 2021-03-18)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) infections can be notoriously difficult to treat and are often accompanied by the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Quorum sensing inhibitors (QSI) acting on PqsR (MvfR) – a crucial transcriptional regulator serving major functions in PA virulence – can enhance antibiotic efficacy and eventually prevent the AMR. An integrated drug discovery campaign including design, medicinal chemistry‐driven hit‐to‐lead optimization and in‐depth biological profiling of a new QSI generation is reported. The QSI possess excellent activity in inhibiting pyocyanin production and PqsR reporter‐gene with IC50 values as low as 200 and 11 × 10−9 m, respectively. Drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) as well as safety pharmacology studies especially highlight the promising translational properties of the lead QSI for pulmonary applications. Moreover, target engagement of the lead QSI is shown in a PA mucoid lung infection mouse model. Beyond that, a significant synergistic effect of a QSI‐tobramycin (Tob) combination against PA biofilms using a tailor‐made squalene‐derived nanoparticle (NP) formulation, which enhance the minimum biofilm eradicating concentration (MBEC) of Tob more than 32‐fold is demonstrated. The novel lead QSI and the accompanying NP formulation highlight the potential of adjunctive pathoblocker‐mediated therapy against PA infections opening up avenues for preclinical development.
    • Non-animal models of epithelial barriers (skin, intestine and lung) in research, industrial applications and regulatory toxicology

      Gordon, Sarah; Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), Campus C23, D-66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2015)
    • Non-animal models of epithelial barriers (skin, intestine and lung) in research, industrial applications and regulatory toxicology.

      Gordon, Sarah; Daneshian, Mardas; Bouwstra, Joke; Caloni, Francesca; Constant, Samuel; Davies, Donna E; Dandekar, Gudrun; Guzman, Carlos A; Fabian, Eric; Haltner, Eleonore; et al. (2015)
      Models of the outer epithelia of the human body - namely the skin, the intestine and the lung - have found valid applications in both research and industrial settings as attractive alternatives to animal testing. A variety of approaches to model these barriers are currently employed in such fields, ranging from the utilization of ex vivo tissue to reconstructed in vitro models, and further to chip-based technologies, synthetic membrane systems and, of increasing current interest, in silico modeling approaches. An international group of experts in the field of epithelial barriers was convened from academia, industry and regulatory bodies to present both the current state of the art of non-animal models of the skin, intestinal and pulmonary barriers in their various fields of application, and to discuss research-based, industry-driven and regulatory-relevant future directions for both the development of new models and the refinement of existing test methods. Issues of model relevance and preference, validation and standardization, acceptance, and the need for simplicity versus complexity were focal themes of the discussions. The outcomes of workshop presentations and discussions, in relation to both current status and future directions in the utilization and development of epithelial barrier models, are presented by the attending experts in the current report.
    • Novel anti-ulcer phytosomal formulation of ethanol extract of pentaclethra macrophylla stem-bark

      Nnamani, Petra O.; Kenechukwu, Franklin C.; Asogwa, Francis O.; Momoh, Mumuni A.; Lehr, Claus Michael; Attama, Anthony A.; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria., 2020-01-01)
      Pentaclethra macrophylla, a medicinal plant widely used for ulcer treatment in Nigeria by herbal practitioners, is limited by poor lipid solubility, resulting in poor absorption and bioavailability. Phytosomes, a novel dosage form that are better absorbed and produce better results than conventional herbal extracts, could be employed to enhance its antiulcer activity. The objective of this study was to formulate Pentaclethra macrophylla stem-bark extract as phytosomes by forming complexes with phospholipid and compare the antiulcer activity with omeprazole, a standard anti-ulcer drug. Phytosomal formulations of ethanol extract of Pentaclethra macrophylla stem-bark and Phospholipon® 90G (P90G) (extract:P90G ratios of 1:1, 1:3, 1:5) were prepared following established method. Their physicochemical properties, in vitro drug release in simulated intestinal fluid (SIF, pH=7.4) and simulated gastric fluid (SGF, pH=1.2) and anti-ulcer properties on aspirin-induced ulcer using Wistar rats were determined and compared with omeprazole. Phytosomes with spherical smooth particles with size range 0.106-0.217 µm and good encapsulation efficiencies (range = 67.61-72.8%) were obtained. Drug release increased with time irrespective of phospholipid concentration or dissolution medium. The extract possessed antiulcer activity (23.33%) which was increased to 33.33, 43.33 and 56.67% by formulating it as phytosomal formulations containing extract:P90G ratios of 1:1, 1:3, 1:5, respectively. However, omeprazole and its formulations gave significantly (p<0.05) greater antiulcer activity when compared with both the ethanol extract and phytosomes. Pentaclethra macrophylla stem-bark possessed antiulcer activity, which was improved via phytosomal formulation. This would serve as potential safer and cheaper alternative therapeutics for ulcer given the side-effects associated with omeprazole.
    • 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.
    • Optical tweezers reveal relationship between microstructure and nanoparticle penetration of pulmonary mucus.

      Kirch, Julian; Schneider, Andreas; Abou, Bérengère; Hopf, Alexander; Schaefer, Ulrich F; Schneider, Marc; Schall, Christian; Wagner, Christian; Lehr, Claus-Michael (2012-11-06)
      In this study, the mobility of nanoparticles in mucus and similar hydrogels as model systems was assessed to elucidate the link between microscopic diffusion behavior and macroscopic penetration of such gels. Differences in particle adhesion to mucus components were strongly dependent on particle coating. Particles coated with 2 kDa PEG exhibited a decreased adhesion to mucus components, whereas chitosan strongly increased the adhesion. Despite such mucoinert properties of PEG, magnetic nanoparticles of both coatings did not penetrate through native respiratory mucus, resisting high magnetic forces (even for several hours). However, model hydrogels were, indeed, penetrated by both particles in dependency of particle coating, obeying the theory of particle mobility in an external force field. Comparison of penetration data with cryogenic scanning EM images of mucus and the applied model systems suggested particularly high rigidity of the mucin scaffold and a broad pore size distribution in mucus as reasons for the observed particle immobilization. Active probing of the rigidity of mucus and model gels with optical tweezers was used in this context to confirm such properties of mucus on the microscale, thus presenting the missing link between micro- and macroscopical observations. Because of high heterogeneity in the size of the voids and pores in mucus, on small scales, particle mobility will depend on adhesive or inert properties. However, particle translocation over distances larger than a few micrometers is restricted by highly rigid structures within the mucus mesh.
    • Organic cation transporter function in different in vitro models of human lung epithelium.

      Salomon, Johanna J; Gausterer, Julia C; Yahara, Tohru; Hosoya, Ken-Ichi; Huwer, Hanno; Hittinger, Marius; Schneider-Daum, Nicole; Lehr, Claus-Michael; Ehrhardt, Carsten; Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS);Saarland University, Building A4.1, 66123 Saarbruecken, Germany. (2015-12-01)
      Organic cation transporters (OCT) encoded by members of the solute carrier (SLC) 22 family of genes are involved in the disposition of physiological substrates and xenobiotics, including drugs used in the treatment of chronic obstructive lung diseases and asthma. The aim of this work was to identify continuously growing epithelial cell lines that closely mimic the organic cation transport of freshly isolated human alveolar type I-like epithelial cells (ATI) in primary culture, and which consequently, can be utilised as in vitro models for the study of organic cation transport at the air-blood barrier. OCT activity was investigated by measuring [(14)C]-tetraethylammonium (TEA) uptake into monolayers of Calu-3, NCI-H441 and A549 lung epithelial cell lines in comparison to ATI-like cell monolayers in primary culture. Levels of time-dependent TEA uptake were highest in A549 and ATI-like cells. In A549 cells, TEA uptake had a saturable and a non-saturable component with Km=528.5±373.1μM, Vmax=0.3±0.1nmol/min/mg protein and Kd=0.02μl/min/mg protein. TEA uptake into Calu-3 and NCI-H441 cells did not reach saturation within the concentration range studied. RNAi experiments in A549 cells confirmed that TEA uptake was mainly facilitated by OCT1 and OCT2. Co-incubation studies using pharmacological OCT modulators suggested that organic cation uptake pathways share several similarities between ATI-like primary cells and the NCI-H441 cell line, whereas more pronounced differences exist between primary cells and the A549 and Calu-3 cell lines.
    • Particle based vaccine formulations for transcutaneous immunization.

      Mittal, Ankit; Raber, Anne S; Hansen, Steffi; Biopharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology; Saarland University; Saarbruecken, Germany. (2013-06-18)
      Vaccine formulations on the basis of nano- (NP) or microparticles (MP) can solve issues with stabilization, controlled release, and poor immunogenicity of antigens. Likewise transcutaneous immunization (TCI) promises superior immunogenicity as well as the advantages of needle-free application compared with conventional intramuscular injections. Thus the combination of both strategies seems to be a very valuable approach. However, until now TCI using particle based vaccine formulations has made no impact on medical practice. One of the main difficulties is that NPs and MPs cannot penetrate the skin to an extent that would allow the application of the required dose of antigen. This is due to the formidable stratum corneum (SC) barrier, the limited amount of antigen in the formulation and often an insufficient immunogenicity. A multitude of strategies are currently under investigation to overcome these issues. We highlight selected methods presenting a spectrum of solutions ranging from transfollicular delivery, to devices disrupting the SC barrier and the combination of particle based vaccines with adjuvants discussing their advantages and shortcomings. Some of these are currently at an experimental state while others are already in clinical testing. All methods have been shown to be capable of transcutaneous antigen delivery.
    • PerfuPul-A Versatile Perfusable Platform to Assess Permeability and Barrier Function of Air Exposed Pulmonary Epithelia.

      Carius, Patrick; Dubois, Aurélie; Ajdarirad, Morvarid; Artzy-Schnirman, Arbel; Sznitman, Josué; Schneider-Daum, Nicole; Lehr, Claus-Michael; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Frontiers, 2021-10-06)
      Complex in vitro models, especially those based on human cells and tissues, may successfully reduce or even replace animal models within pre-clinical development of orally inhaled drug products. Microfluidic lung-on-chips are regarded as especially promising models since they allow the culture of lung specific cell types under physiological stimuli including perfusion and air-liquid interface (ALI) conditions within a precisely controlled in vitro environment. Currently, though, such models are not available to a broad user community given their need for sophisticated microfabrication techniques. They further require systematic comparison to well-based filter supports, in analogy to traditional Transwells®. We here present a versatile perfusable platform that combines the advantages of well-based filter supports with the benefits of perfusion, to assess barrier permeability of and aerosol deposition on ALI cultured pulmonary epithelial cells. The platform as well as the required technical accessories can be reproduced via a detailed step-by-step protocol and implemented in typical bio-/pharmaceutical laboratories without specific expertise in microfabrication methods nor the need to buy costly specialized equipment. Calu-3 cells cultured under liquid covered conditions (LCC) inside the platform showed similar development of transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) over a period of 14 days as cells cultured on a traditional Transwell®. By using a customized deposition chamber, fluorescein sodium was nebulized via a clinically relevant Aerogen® Solo nebulizer onto Calu-3 cells cultured under ALI conditions within the platform. This not only allowed to analyze the transport of fluorescein sodium after ALI deposition under perfusion, but also to compare it to transport under traditional static conditions.
    • Permutation Test (PT) and Tolerated Difference Test (TDT): two new, robust and powerful nonparametric tests for statistical comparison of dissolution profiles.

      Gómez-Mantilla, José-David; Casabó, Vicente Germán; Schaefer, Ulrich F; Lehr, Claus-Michael; Biopharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology, Saarland University, Campus A4.1, D-66123 Saarbruecken, Germany. (2013-01-30)
      The most popular way of comparing oral solid forms of drug formulations from different batches or manufacturers is through dissolution profile comparison. Usually, a similarity factor known as (f2) is employed; However, the level of confidence associated with this method is uncertain and its statistical power is low. In addition, f2 lacks the flexibility needed to perform in special scenarios. In this study two new statistical tests based on nonparametrical Permutation Test theory are described, the Permutation Test (PT), which is very restrictive to confer similarity, and the Tolerated Difference Test (TDT), which has flexible restrictedness to confer similarity, are described and compared to f2. The statistical power and robustness of the tests were analyzed by simulation using the Higuchi, Korsmayer, Peppas and Weibull dissolution models. Several batches of oral solid forms were simulated while varying the velocity of dissolution (from 30 min to 300 min to dissolve 85% of the total content) and the variability within each batch (CV 2-30%). For levels of variability below 10% the new tests exhibited better statistical power than f2 and equal or better robustness than f2. TDT can also be modified to distinguish different levels of similarity and can be employed to obtain customized comparisons for specific drugs. In conclusion, two new methods, more versatile and with a stronger statistical basis than f2, are described and proposed as viable alternatives to that method. Additionally, an optimized time sampling strategy and an experimental design-driven strategy for performing dissolution profile comparisons are described.
    • pH-triggered drug release from biodegradable microwells for oral drug delivery.

      Nielsen, Line Hagner; Nagstrup, Johan; Gordon, Sarah; Keller, Stephan Sylvest; Østergaard, Jesper; Rades, Thomas; Müllertz, Anette; Boisen, Anja (2015-06)
      Microwells fabricated from poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) were evaluated for their application as an oral drug delivery system using the amorphous sodium salt of furosemide (ASSF) as a model drug. Hot embossing of PLLA resulted in fabrication of microwells with an inner diameter of 240 μm and a height of 100 μm. The microwells were filled with ASSF using a modified screen printing technique, followed by coating of the microwell cavities with a gastro-resistant lid of Eudragit® L100. The release behavior of ASSF from the coated microwells was investigated using a μ-Diss profiler and a UV imaging system, and under conditions simulating the changing environment of the gastrointestinal tract. Biorelevant gastric medium (pH 1.6) was employed, after which a change to biorelevant intestinal release medium (pH 6.5) was carried out. Both μ-Diss profiler and UV imaging release experiments showed that sealing of microwell cavities with an Eudragit® layer prevented drug release in biorelevant gastric medium. An immediate release of the ASSF from coated microwells was observed in the intestinal medium. This pH-triggered release behavior demonstrates the future potential of PLLA microwells as a site-specific oral drug delivery system.
    • Physiological, Biochemical, and Biophysical Characterization of the Lung-Lavaged Spontaneously-Breathing Rabbit as a Model for Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

      Ricci, Francesca; Catozzi, Chiara; Murgia, Xabier; Rosa, Brenda; Amidani, Davide; Lorenzini, Luca; Bianco, Federico; Rivetti, Claudio; Catinella, Silvia; Villetti, Gino; et al. (2017)
      Nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nCPAP) is a widely accepted technique of non-invasive respiratory support in spontaneously-breathing premature infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). Surfactant administration techniques compatible with nCPAP ventilation strategy are actively investigated. Our aim is to set up and validate a respiratory distress animal model that can be managed on nCPAP suitable for surfactant administration techniques studies. Surfactant depletion was induced by bronchoalveolar lavages (BALs) on 18 adult rabbits. Full depletion was assessed by surfactant component analysis on the BALs samples. Animals were randomized into two groups: Control group (nCPAP only) and InSurE group, consisting of a bolus of surfactant (Poractant alfa, 200 mg/kg) followed by nCPAP. Arterial blood gases were monitored until animal sacrifice, 3 hours post treatment. Lung mechanics were evaluated just before and after BALs, at the time of treatment, and at the end of the procedure. Surfactant phospholipids and protein analysis as well as surface tension measurements on sequential BALs confirmed the efficacy of the surfactant depletion procedure. The InSurE group showed a significant improvement of blood oxygenation and lung mechanics. On the contrary, no signs of recovery were appreciated in animals treated with just nCPAP. The surfactant-depleted adult rabbit RDS model proved to be a valuable and efficient preclinical tool for mimicking the clinical scenario of preterm infants affected by mild/moderate RDS who spontaneously breathe and do not require mechanical ventilation. This population is of particular interest as potential target for the non-invasive administration of surfactant.
    • 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.