Introduction: Recent studies showed that rapamycin, as a mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor, could have beneficial therapeutic effects for the central nervous system (CNS) related diseases. However, the immunosuppressive effect of rapamycin as an adverse effect, the low water solubility, and the rapid in vivo degradation along with the blood-brain barrier-related challenges restricted the clinical use of this drug for brain diseases. To overcome these drawbacks, a transferrin (Tf) decorated nanostructured lipid carrier (NLC) containing rapamycin was designed and developed.
Methods: Rapamycin-loaded cationic and bare NLCs were prepared using solvent diffusion and sonication method and well characterized. The optimum cationic NLCs were physically decorated with Tf. For in vitro study, the MTT assay and intracellular uptake of nanoparticles on U-87 MG glioblastoma cells were assessed. The animal biodistribution of nanoparticles was evaluated by fluorescent optical imaging. Finally, the in vivo effect of NLCs on the immune system was also studied.
Results: Spherical NLCs with small particle sizes ranging from 120 to 150 nm and high entrapment efficiency of more than 90%, showed ≥80% cell viability. More importantly, Tf-decorated NLCs in comparison with bare NLCs, showed a significantly higher cellular uptake (97% vs 60%) after 2 hours incubation and further an appropriate brain accumulation with lower uptake in untargeted tissue in mice. Surprisingly, rapamycin-loaded NLCs exhibited no immunosuppressive effect.
Conclusion: Our findings proposed that the designed Tf-decorated NLCs could be considered as a safe and efficient carrier for targeted brain delivery of rapamycin which may have an important value in the clinic for the treatment of neurological disorders.
Keywords: Rapamycin, Nanostructured lipid carrier, Transferrin, Brain delivery