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Facile Strategy Enabling Both High Loading and High Release Amounts of the Water-Insoluble Drug Clofazimine Using Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles


The use of nanocarriers to deliver poorly soluble drugs to the sites of diseases is an attractive and general method, and mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) are increasingly being used as carriers. However, both loading a large amount of drugs into the pores and still being able to release the drug is a challenge. In this paper, we demonstrate a general strategy based on a companion molecule that chaperones the drug into the pores and also aids it in escaping. A common related strategy is to use a miscible co-solvent dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), but although loading may be efficient in DMSO, this co-solvent frequently diffuses into an aqueous environment, leaving the drug behind. We demonstrate the method by using acetophenone (AP), an FDA-approved food additive as the chaperone for clofazimine (CFZ), a water-insoluble antibiotic used to treat leprosy and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. AP enables a high amount of CFZ cargo into the MSNs and also carries CFZ cargo out from the MSNs effectively when they are in an aqueous biorelevant environment. The amount of loading and the CFZ release efficiency from MSNs were optimized; 4.5 times more CFZ was loaded in MSNs with AP than that with DMSO and 2300 times more CFZ was released than that without the assistance of the AP. In vitro treatment of macrophages infected by Mycobacterium tuberculosis with the optimized CFZ-loaded MSNs killed the bacteria in the cells in a dose-dependent manner. These studies demonstrate a highly efficient method for loading nanoparticles with water-insoluble drug molecules and the efficacy of the nanoparticles in delivering drugs into eukaryotic cells in aqueous media.

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