Encapsulation oftrans-aconitic acid in mucoadhesive microspheres prolongs the anti-inflammatory effect in LPS-induced acute arthritis

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trans-Aconitic acid (TAA) is the main constituent of the leaves from the medicinal plant Echinodorus grandiflorus, used to treat different inflammatory diseases. TAA induces a potent but short-lasting biological response, credited to its high polarity and unfavorable pharmacokinetics. Here we developed, characterized and evaluated the anti-inflammatory activity of mucoadhesive microspheres loaded with TAA. Seven batches of mucoadhesive microspheres were prepared by the emulsification/solvent evaporation method, employing different proportions of TAA and Carbopol 934 or/and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose. All batches were characterized for their particle medium size, polydispersity index and entrapment percentage. The batch coded F3c showed highest entrapment percentage and was characterized by infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermogravimetric analyses (TGA) and zeta potential. The anti-inflammatory activity of F3c was assessed in a model of acute arthritis induced by injection of LPS in the knee joint of Swiss mice. The granulometric analyses indicated heterogeneous size distribution for F3c. SEM characterization indicated microspheres with slightly irregular shape and rough surface. Results from ATR-FTIR and thermal analyses (DSC and TGA) pointed out absence of incompatibility between the components of the formulation; thermal events related to the constituents were isolated and randomly located, suggesting amorphous distribution of TAA in the formulation matrix. The zeta potential of the formulations varied from −30 to −34mV, which may contribute to good stability. When given orally to mice, F3c induced a prolonged anti-inflammatory response by reducing total cell count and neutrophilic accumulation in the joint cavity even when given 48 and 36h before the stimulus, respectively, in comparison to free TAA (up to 24 and 6h, respectively). Therefore, the encapsulation of TAA in mucoadhesive microspheres provided its sustained release, indicating that this drug delivery system is a potential agent to treat inflammatory diseases by regulating cell influx.

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