Thermoreversible Pluronic® F127-based hydrogel containing liposomes for the controlled delivery of paclitaxel: in vitro drug release, cell cytotoxicity, and uptake studies
Shufang Nie1,2, WL Wendy Hsiao2, Weisan Pan3, Zhijun Yang2
1Department of Pharmaceutical Engineering, Wuhan Bioengineering Institute, Yangluo Economic Development Zone, Wuhan, People’s Republic of China; 2School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China; 3Department of Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, Shenyang, People's Republic of China
Purpose: To develop an in situ gel system comprising liposome-containing paclitaxel (PTX) dispersed within the thermoreversible gel (Pluronic® F127 gel) for controlled release and improved antitumor drug efficiency.
Methods: The dialysis membrane and membrane-less diffusion method were used to investigate the in vitro drug release behavior. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) thermal analysis was used to investigate the “micellization” and “sol/gel transition” process of in situ gel systems. In vitro cytotoxicity and drug uptake in KB cancer cells were determined by MTT, intercellular drug concentration, and fluorescence intensity assay.
Results: The in vitro release experiment performed with a dialysis membrane model showed that the liposomal gel exhibited the longest drug-release period compared with liposome, general gel, and commercial formulation Taxol®. This effect is presumably due to the increased viscosity of liposomal gel, which has the effect of creating a drug reservoir. Both drug and gel release from the in situ gel system operated under zero-order kinetics and showed a correlation of release of PTX with gel, indicating a predominating release mechanism of the erosion type. Dispersing liposomes into the gel replaced larger gel itself for achieving the same gel dissolution rate. Both the critical micelle temperature and the sol/gel temperature, detected by DSC thermal analysis, were shifted to lower temperatures by adding liposomes. The extent of the shifts depended on the amount of embedded liposomes. MTT assay and drug uptake studies showed that the treatment with PTX-loaded liposomal 18% Pluronic F127 yielded cytotoxicities, intercellular fluorescence intensity, and drug concentration in KB cells much higher than that of conventional liposome, while blank liposomal 18% Pluronic F127 gel was far less than the Cremophor EL® vehicle and empty liposomes.
Conclusions: A thermosensitive hydrogel with embedded liposome is a promising carrier for hydrophobic anticancer agents, to be used in parenteral formulations for treating local cancers.
Keywords: controlled release, cytotoxicity evaluation, drug uptake