Nanocarriers for the delivery of active ingredients and fractions extracted from natural products used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
BACKGROUND The objective of this study was to prepare, characterize, and evaluate a folate-modified self-microemulsifying drug delivery system (FSMEDDS) with the aim to improve the solubility of curcumin and its delivery to the colon, facilitating endocytosis of FSMEDDS mediated by folate receptors on colon cancer cells. METHODS Ternary phase diagrams were constructed in order to obtain the most efficient self-emulsification region, and the formulation of curcumin-loaded SMEDDS was optimized by a simplex lattice experiment design. Then, three lipophilic folate derivatives (folate-polyethylene glycol-distearoylphosphatidylethanolamine, folate-polyethylene glycol-cholesteryl hemisuccinate, and folate-polyethylene glycol-cholesterol) used as a surfactant were added to curcumin-loaded SMEDDS formulations. An in situ colon perfusion method in rats was used to optimize the formulation of FSMEDDS. Curcumin-loaded FSMEDDS was then filled into colon-targeted capsules and the in vitro release was investigated. Cytotoxicity studies and cellular uptake studies was used in this research. RESULTS The optimal formulation of FSMEDDS obtained with the established in situ colon perfusion method in rats was comprised of 57.5% Cremophor(®) EL, 32.5% Transcutol(®) HP, 10% Capryol™ 90, and a small amount of folate-polyethylene glycol-cholesteryl hemisuccinate (the weight ratio of folate materials to Cremophor EL was 1:100). The in vitro release results indicated that the obtained formulation of curcumin could reach the colon efficiently and release the drug immediately. Cellular uptake studies analyzed with fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry indicated that the FSMEDDS formulation could efficiently bind with the folate receptors on the surface of positive folate receptors cell lines. In addition, FSMEDDS showed greater cytotoxicity than SMEDDS in the above two cells. CONCLUSION FSMEDDS-filled colon-targeted capsules are a potential carrier for colon delivery of curcumin.