Preparation and evaluation of PEG-coated zein nanoparticles for oral drug delivery purposes
The aim was to produce PEG-coated nanoparticles (NP-PEG), with mucus-permeating properties, for oral drug delivery purposes by using simple procedures and regulatoryapproved compounds in order to facilitate a potential clinical development. For this purpose, zein nanoparticles were prepared by desolvation and, then, coated by incubation with PEG 35,000. The resulting nanocarriers displayed a mean size of about 200 nm and a negative zeta potential. The presence of PEG on the surface of nanoparticles was evidenced by electron microscopy and confirmed by FTIR analysis. Likely, the hydrophobic surface of zein nanoparticles (NP) was significantly reduce by their coating with PEG. This increase of the hydrophilicity of PEG-coated nanoparticles was associated with an important increase of their mobility in pig intestinal mucus. In laboratory animals, NP-PEG (fluorescently labelled with Lumogen® Red 305) displayed a different behavior when compared with bare nanoparticles. After oral administration, NP appeared to be trapped in the mucus mesh, whereas NP-PEG were capable of crossing the protective mucus layer and reach the epithelium. Finally, PEGcoated zein nanoparticles, prepared by a simple and reproducible method without employing reactive reagents, may be adequate carriers for promoting the oral bioavailability of biomacromolecules and other biologically active compounds with low permeability properties.