Improvement of aqueous solubility of fenretinide and other hydrophobic anti-tumor drugs by complexation with amphiphilic dextrins

I. Orienti, G. Zuccari, R. Carosio, P. G. Montaldo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study relates to the preparation of a series of amphiphilic dextrins and their evaluation as complexing agents for anti-tumor hydrophobic drugs such as fenretinide, paclitaxel, etoposide, and camptothecin. The amphiphilic dextrins were obtained by conjugation of low molecular weight dextrin (average molecular weight 1670, average polymerization degree 9.33 glucose monomer) with hydrocarbon chains at substitution degree of about 0.1 mole hydrocarbon chain per mole of glucose monomer, as confirmed by 1H-NMR spectra. The conjugates were highly soluble in water and dissolved with formation of nano-aggregates endowed with hydrophobic inner cores able to host hydrophobic drugs by complexation. Complexation raised hydrophobic drugs aqueous solubility; the best results were obtained with fenretinide. Solid complexes with fenretinide were prepared by using three differents approaches: the kneading method, the co-solubilisation method, and the co-precipitation method. Kneading method provided the complexes endowed with the best functional properties. Thermogravimetric analysis on solid samples suggested a notable thermal stability up to 300°C for both the conjugated dextrins and the solid complexes. In differential scanning calorimetry profiles no significant differences were observed among amphiphilic dextrins and complexed drug, indicating that the guest molecule exists in an amorphous state in the solid matrices. Particle size analysis confirmed the dimensional suitability of the complexes for parenteral administration. Moreover, sustained drug release, in vitro, has been observed from all the complexes analyzed. Regarding the biological effects, the cytotoxicity of complexed fenretinide towards HTLA-230 neuroblastoma cell line was always higher than the free drug, suggesting that complexation increased drug bioavailability. These findings, taken together, indicated that these biodegradable, self-assembling dextrin conjugates may be regarded as new potential complexing agents for hydrophobic drugs and, in particular, for fenretinide, to increase drug solubility, bioavailability, and thus therapeutic efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-398
Number of pages10
JournalDrug Delivery
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Aqueous solubility improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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