Design of smart GE11-PLGA/PEG-PLGA blend nanoparticulate platforms for parenteral administration of hydrophilic macromolecular drugs: synthesis, preparation andin vitro/ex vivocharacterization

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Active drug targeting and controlled release of hydrophilic macromolecular drugs represent crucial points in designing efficient polymeric drug delivery nanoplatforms. In the present work EGFR-targeted polylactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) nanoparticles were made by a blend of two different PLGA-based polymers. The first, GE11-PLGA, in which PLGA was functionalized with GE11, a small peptide and EGFR allosteric ligand, able to give nanoparticles selective targeting features. The second polymer was a PEGylated PLGA (PEG-PLGA) aimed at improving nanoparticles hydrophilicity and stealth features. GE11 and GE11-PLGA were custom synthetized through a simple and inexpensive method. The nanoprecipitation technique was exploited for the preparation of polymeric nanoparticles composed by a 1:1 weight ratio between GE11-PLGA and PEG-PLGA, obtaining smart nanoplatforms with proper size for parenteral administration (143.9 ± 5.0 nm). In vitro cellular uptake in EGFR-overexpressing cell line (A549) demonstrated an active internalization of GE11-functionalized nanoparticles. GE11-PLGA/PEG-PLGA blend nanoparticles were loaded with Myoglobin, a model hydrophilic macromolecule, reaching a good loading (2.42% respect to the theoretical 4.00% w/w) and a prolonged release over 60 days. GE11-PLGA/PEG-PLGA blend nanoparticles showed good in vitro stability for 30 days in physiological saline solution at 4 °C and for 24 h in pH 7.4 or pH 5.0 buffer at 37 °C respectively, giving indications about potential storage and administration conditions. Furthermore ex vivo stability study in human plasma using fluorescence Single Particle Tracking (fSPT) assessed good GE11-PLGA/PEG-PLGA nanoparticles dimensional stability after 1 and 4 h. Thanks to the versatility in polymeric composition and relative tunable nanoparticles features in terms of drug incorporation and release, GE11-PLGA/PEG-PLGA blend NPs can be considered highly promising as smart nanoparticulate platforms for the treatment of diseases characterized by EGFR overexpression by parenteral administration.

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