Effect of increased surface hydrophobicity via drug conjugation on the clearance of inhaled PEGylated polylysine dendrimers

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Graphical abstractPEGylated polylysine dendrimers are attractive and well tolerated inhalable drug delivery platforms that have the potential to control the release, absorption kinetics and lung retention time of conjugated drugs. The clinical application of these systems though, would likely require partial substitution of surface PEG groups with drug molecules that are anticipated to alter their lung clearance kinetics and clearance pathways. In the current study, we therefore evaluated the impact of increased surface hydrophobicity via substitution of 50% surface PEG groups with a model hydrophobic drug (α-carboxyl OtButylated methotrexate) on the lung clearance of a Generation 5 PEGylated polylysine dendrimer in rats. PEG substitution with OtBu-methotrexate accelerated lung clearance of the dendrimer by increasing polylysine scaffold catabolism, improving systemic absorption of the intact dendrimer and low molecular weight products of scaffold catabolism, and enhancing mucociliary clearance. These results suggest that the conjugation of hydrophobic drug on the surface of a PEGylated dendrimer is likely to accelerate lung clearance when compared to a fully PEGylated dendrimer.

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