Silk fibroin nanoparticles: Efficient vehicles for the natural antioxidant quercetin

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This article describes how silk fibroin nanoparticles (SFNs) are capable of adsorbing and releasing quercetin (Q) and how its integrity is highly preserved, as confirmed by antioxidant activity assays. Q loading onto SFNs was optimized in terms of the Q/SFN ratio (w/w), time of adsorption and solvent mixture. Quercetin-loaded silk fibroin nanoparticles (QSFNs) were characterized using the dynamic light scattering technique to measure the diameter (Z-Average) and Z-potential (ζ). Loaded particles were slightly bigger than the SFNs, while their ζ was less negative. The antioxidant activity against DPPH• showed that the Q loaded in QSFNs not only retains the antioxidant activity but also has a synergistic scavenging activity due the intrinsic antioxidant activity of the SF. The drug loading content (DLC) and the encapsulation efficiency (EE) varied with the relation between Q and SFN in the loading solution. The sustained release of Q occurred throughout the experiment both in phosphate buffer saline (pH 7.4) and simulated intestinal fluid (pH 6.8). The results point to SFNs as promising candidates for Q loading, transport and gastrointestinal delivery with potential applications in nanomedicine, while retaining their nano-size and their antioxidant properties.

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