Encapsulation of curcumin in polyelectrolyte nanocapsules and their neuroprotective activity

Poor water solubility and low bioavailability of lipophilic drugs can be potentially improved with the use of delivery systems. In this study, encapsulation of nanoemulsion droplets was utilized to prepare curcumin nanocarriers. Nanosize droplets containing the drug were encapsulated in polyelectrolyte shells formed by the layer-by-layer (LbL) adsorption of biocompatible polyelectrolytes: poly-L-lysine (PLL) and poly-L-glutamic acid (PGA). The size of synthesized nanocapsules was around 100 nm. Their biocompatibility and neuroprotective effects were evaluated on the SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cell line using cell viability/toxicity assays (MTT reduction, LDH release). Statistically significant toxic effect was clearly observed for PLL coated nanocapsules (reduction in cell viability about 20%-60%), while nanocapsules with PLL/PGA coating did not evoke any detrimental effects on SH-SY5Y cells. Curcumin encapsulated in PLL/PGA showed similar neuroprotective activity against hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced cell damage, as did 5 μM curcumin pre-dissolved in DMSO (about 16% of protection). Determination of concentration of curcumin in cell lysate confirmed that curcumin in nanocapsules has cell protective effect in lower concentrations (at least 20 times) than when given alone. Intracellular mechanisms of encapsulated curcumin-mediated protection engaged the prevention of the H2O2-induced decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) but did not attenuate Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) formation. The obtained results indicate the utility of PLL/PGA shell nanocapsules as a promising, alternative way of curcumin delivery for neuroprotective purposes with improved efficiency and reduced toxicity.

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