Verapamil and riluzole cocktail liposomes overcome pharmacoresistance by inhibiting P-glycoprotein in brain endothelial and astrocyte cells: A potent approach to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

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Riluzole is currently one of two approved medications for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, brain disposition of riluzole, as a substrate of P-glycoprotein (P-gp), is limited by the efflux transporters at the blood-brain barrier (BBB). We propose to develop a liposomal co-delivery system that could effectively transport riluzole to brain cells by reducing efflux pumps with a P-gp inhibitor, verapamil. Riluzole and verapamil cocktail liposomes were prepared by lipid film hydration. The average particle size of cocktail liposomes was 194.3 ± 6.0 nm and their polydispersity index (PDI) was 0.272 ± 0.017. The encapsulation efficiencies of verapamil and riluzole in the cocktail liposomes were 86.0 ± 1.4% and 85.6 ± 1.1%, respectively. The drug release from cocktail liposomes after 8 h in PBS at 37 °C was 78.4 ± 6.2% of riluzole and 76.7 ± 3.8% of verapamil. The average particle size of liposomes did not show significant changes at 4 °C after three months. Verapamil cocktail liposomes inhibited P-gp levels measured by western blotting in dose and time-dependent manners in brain endothelial bEND.3 cells. Increased drug efflux transporters were detected in bEND.3 and astrocytes C8D1A cells, promoted by tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α) or hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Restored accumulations of riluzole and fluorescent dye rhodamine 123 were observed in bEND.3 cells after treatments with cocktail liposomes. It indicated that inhibitory potential of co-delivery liposome system towards P-gp could mediate the transport of both P-gp substrates. Verapamil and riluzole co-loaded liposomes may be used to overcome pharmacoresistance of riluzole for improving ALS therapy.Graphical abstract

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