Nanoparticles made of polylactide-poly(ethylene glycol) block-copolymer (PLA-PEG) are promising vehicles for drug delivery due to their biodegradability and controllable payload release. However, published data on the drug delivery properties of PLA-PEG nanoparticles are heterogeneous in terms of nanoparticle characteristics and mostly refer to low injected doses (a few mg nanoparticles per kg body weight). We have performed a comprehensive study of the biodistribution of nanoparticle formulations based on PLA-PEG nanoparticles of ˜100 nm size at injected doses of 30 to 140 mg/kg body weight in healthy rats and nude tumor-bearing mice. Nanoparticle formulations differed by surface PEG coverage and by release kinetics of the encapsulated model active pharmaceutical ingredient (API).
Increase in PEG coverage prolonged nanoparticle circulation half-life up to ˜20 h in rats and ˜10 h in mice and decreased retention in liver, spleen and lungs. Circulation half-life of the encapsulated API grew monotonously as the release rate slowed down. Plasma and tissue pharmacokinetics was dose-linear for inactive nanoparticles, but markedly dose-dependent for the model therapeutic formulation, presumably because of the toxic effects of released API. A mathematical model of API distribution calibrated on the data for inactive nanoparticles and conventional API form correctly predicted the distribution of the model therapeutic formulation at the lowest investigated dose, but for higher doses the toxic action of the released API had to be explicitly modelled.
Our results provide a coherent illustration of the ability of controllable-release PLA-PEG nanoparticles to serve as an effective drug delivery platform to alter API biodistribution. They also underscore the importance of physiological effects of released drug in determining the biodistribution of therapeutic drug formulations at doses approaching tolerability limits.