Development of PLGA nanoparticle loaded dissolving microneedles and comparison with hollow microneedles in intradermal vaccine delivery

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Graphical abstractSkin is an attractive but also very challenging immunisation site for particulate subunit vaccines. The aim of this study was to develop hyaluronan (HA)-based dissolving microneedles (MNs) loaded with PLGA nanoparticles (NPs) co-encapsulating ovalbumin (OVA) and poly(I:C) for intradermal immunisation. The NP:HA ratio used for the preparation of dissolving MNs appeared to be critical for the quality of MNs and their dissolution in ex vivo human skin. Asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation and dynamic light scattering were used to analyse the NPs released from the MNs in vitro. Successful release of the NPs depended on the drying conditions during MN preparation. The delivered antigen dose from dissolving MNs in mice was determined to be 1 μg OVA, in NPs or as free antigen, by using near-infrared fluorescence imaging. Finally, the immunogenicity of the NPs after administration of dissolving MNs (NP:HA weight ratio 1:4) was compared with that of hollow MN-delivered NPs in mice. Immunization with free antigen in dissolving MNs resulted in equally strong immune responses compared to delivery by hollow MNs. However, humoral and cellular immune responses evoked by NP-loaded dissolving MNs were inferior to those elicited by NPs delivered through a hollow MN. In conclusion, we identified several critical formulation parameters for the further development of NP-loaded dissolving MNs.

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