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Drug Deliv. 2016 Nov;23(9):3424-3435. Epub 2016 Jun 8.

Curcumin-carboxymethyl chitosan (CNC) conjugate and CNC/LHR mixed polymeric micelles as new approaches to improve the oral absorption of P-gp substrate drugs.

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a State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, Department of Pharmaceutics, China Pharmaceutical University , Nanjing , Jiangsu , China and.
b Shandong Dyne Marine Biopharmaceutical Co, Ltd , Beijing , China.


The low oral bioavailability of numerous drugs has been mostly attributed to the significant effect of P-gp-mediated efflux on intestinal drug transport. Herein, we developed mixed polymeric micelles (MPMs) comprised of curcumin-carboxymethyl chitosan (CNC) conjugate, as a potential inhibitor of P-gp-mediated efflux and gastrointestinal absorption enhancer, and low-molecular-weight heparin-all-trans-retinoid acid (LHR) conjugate, as loading material, with the aim to improve the oral absorption of P-gp substrate drugs. CNC conjugate was synthesized by chemical bonding of curcumin (Cur) and carboxymethyl chitosan (CMCS) taking advantage of the inhibition of intestinal P-gp-mediated secretion by Cur and the intestinal absorption enhancement by CMCS. The chemical structure of CNC conjugate was characterized by 1H NMR with a degree of substitution of Cur of 4.52-10.20%. More importantly, CNC conjugate markedly improved the stability of Cur in physiological pH. Cyclosporine A-loaded CNC/LHR MPMs (CsA-CNC/LHR MPMs) were prepared by dialysis method, with high drug loading 25.45% and nanoscaled particle size (∼200 nm). In situ single-pass perfusion studies in rats showed that both CsA + CNC mixture and CsA-CNC/LHR MPMs achieved significantly higher Ka and Peff than CsA suspension in the duodenum and jejunum segments (p <  0.01), which was comparable to verapamil coperfusion effect. Similarly, CsA + CNC mixture and CsA-CNC/LHR MPMs significantly increased the oral bioavailability of CsA as compared to CsA suspension. These results suggest that CNC conjugate might be considered as a promising gastrointestinal absorption enhancer, while CNC/LHR MPMs had the potential to improve the oral absorption of P-gp substrate drugs.


Carboxymethyl chitosan; P-glycoprotein; curcumin; mixed polymeric micelles; oral absorption enhancer

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