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Pharmaceutics. 2019 Sep 1;11(9). pii: E435. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics11090435.

Electrospray-Based Microencapsulation of Epigallocatechin 3-Gallate for Local Delivery into the Intervertebral Disc.

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Institute for Biomechanics, ETH Zurich, Hönggerbergring 64, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland.
AO Research Institute Davos, Clavadelerstrasse 8, 7270 Davos, Switzerland.
Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Laboratory for Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles, Lerchenfeldstr. 5, 9014 St. Gallen, Switzerland.
Clinic Prodorso, Walchestrasse 15, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland.
Schön Clinic Munich Harlaching, Spine Center, Academic Teaching Hospital and Spine Research Institute of the Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg (AU), Harlachinger Str. 51, 81547 Munich, Germany.
Department of Health Sciences, University of Potsdam, Am Neuen Palais 10, 14469 Potsdam, Germany.
Institute for Biomechanics, ETH Zurich, Hönggerbergring 64, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland.


Locally delivered anti-inflammatory compounds can restore the homeostasis of the degenerated intervertebral disc (IVD). With beneficial effects on IVD cells, epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG) is a promising therapeutic candidate. However, EGCG is prone to rapid degradation and/or depletion. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to develop a method for controlled EGCG delivery in the degenerated IVD. Primary IVD cells were isolated from human donors undergoing IVD surgeries. EGCG was encapsulated into microparticles by electrospraying of glutaraldehyde-crosslinked gelatin. The resulting particles were characterized in terms of cytocompatibility and anti-inflammatory activity, and combined with a thermoresponsive carrier to produce an injectable EGCG delivery system. Subsequently, electrospraying was scaled up using the industrial NANOSPIDER™ technology. The produced EGCG microparticles reduced the expression of inflammatory (IL-6, IL-8, COX-2) and catabolic (MMP1, MMP3, MMP13) mediators in pro-inflammatory 3D cell cultures. Combining the EGCG microparticles with the carrier showed a trend towards modulating EGCG activity/release. Electrospray upscaling was achieved, leading to particles with homogenous spherical morphologies. In conclusion, electrospray-based encapsulation of EGCG resulted in cytocompatible microparticles that preserved the activity of EGCG and showed the potential to control EGCG release, thus favoring IVD health by downregulating local inflammation. Future studies will focus on further exploring the biological activity of the developed delivery system for potential clinical use.


EGCG; degenerative disc disease; drug delivery; electrospraying; inflammation; injectable biomaterial; microparticles

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