Solid Lipid Nanoparticle assemblies (SLNas) for an anti-TB inhalation treatment—A Design of Experiments approach to investigate the influence of pre-freezing conditions on the powder respirability

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For direct intramacrophagic antitubercular therapy, pulmonary administration through Dry Powder Inhaler (DPI) devices is a reasonable option. For the achievement of efficacious aerosolisation, rifampicin-loaded Solid Lipid Nanoparticle assemblies (SLNas) were developed using the melt emulsifying technique followed by freeze-drying. Indeed, this drying method can cause freezing or drying stresses compromising powder respirability. It is the aim of this research to offer novel information regarding pre-freezing variables. These included type and concentration of cryoprotectants, pre-freezing temperature, and nanoparticle concentration in the suspension. In particular, the effects of such variables were observed at two main levels. First of all, on SLNas characteristics – i.e., size, polydispersity index, zeta-potential, circularity, density, and drug loading. Secondly, on powder respirability, taking into account aerodynamic diameter, emitted dose, and respirable fraction. Considering the complexity of the factors involved in a successful respirable powder, a Design of Experiments (DoE) approach was adopted as a statistical tool for evaluating the effect of pre-freezing conditions. Interestingly, the most favourable impact on powder respirability was exerted by quick-freezing combined with a certain grade of sample dilution before the pre-freezing step without the use of cryoprotectants. In such conditions, a very high SLNas respirable fraction (>50%) was achieved, along with acceptable yields in the final dry powder as well as a reduction of powder mass to be introduced into DPI capsules with benefits in terms of administered drug dose feasibility.

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