Preparation and investigation of P28GST-loaded PLGA microparticles for immunomodulation of experimental colitis

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Graphical abstractThe aim of this work was to prepare and characterize (in vitro and in vivo) PLGA-based microparticles loaded with an enzymatic protein derived from the helminth parasite Schistosoma haematobium: glutathione S-transferase P28GST (P28GST). This protein is not only a promising candidate vaccine against schistosomiasis, it also exhibits interesting immunomodulating effects, which can be helpful for the regulation of inflammatory diseases. Helminths express a regulatory role on intestinal inflammation, and immunization by P28GST has recently been shown to be as efficient as infection to reduce inflammation in a murine colitis model. As an alternative to the combination with a classical adjuvant, long acting P28GST microparticles were prepared in order to induce colitis prevention. PLGA was used as biodegradable and biocompatible matrix former, and a W/O/W emulsion/solvent extraction technique applied to prepare different types of microparticles. The effects of key formulation and processing parameters (e.g., the polymer molecular weight, drug loading, W/O/W phase volumes and stirring rates of the primary/secondary emulsions) on the systems’ performance were studied. Microparticles providing about constant P28GST release during several weeks were selected and their effects in an experimental model of colitis evaluated. Mice received P28GST-loaded or P28GST-free PLGA microparticles (s.c.) on Day 0, and optionally also on Days 14 and 28. Colitis was induced on Day 35, the animals were sacrificed on Day 37. Interestingly, the Wallace score (being a measure of the severity of the inflammation) was significantly lower in mice treated with P28GST microparticles compared to placebo after 1 or 3 injections. As immunogenicity markers, increased anti-P28GST IgG levels were detected after three P28GST PLGA microparticle injections, but not in the control groups. Thus, the proposed microparticles offer an interesting potential for the preventive treatment of experimental colitis, while the underlying mechanism of action is still to be investigated.

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