All-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) is now included in many antitumor therapeutic schemes for the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia, Kaposi's sarcoma, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, ovarian carcinoma, bladder cancer, and neuroblastoma. Unfortunately, its poor aqueous solubility hampers its parenteral formulation, whereas oral administration of ATRA is associated with progressively diminishing drug levels in plasma, which is related to induction of retinoic acid-binding proteins and increased drug catabolism by cytochrome P450-mediated reactions. An ATRA formulation, obtained by complexation of the drug into polymeric micelles, might be suitable for parenteral administration overcoming these unwanted effects. To this purpose, amphiphilic polymers were prepared by polyvinylalcohol (PVA) partial esterification with nicotinoyl moieties and their functional properties evaluated with regard to ATRA complexation. The physicochemical characteristics of the polymers and the complexes were analyzed by 1H-NMR, Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS), Capillary Electophoresis (CE), and were correlated with the complex ability to improve the drug solubilization and release the free drug in an aqueous environment. Subsequently, the best complex, providing the highest ATRA solubilization and release, was evaluated in vitro to test its citotoxicity towards neuroblastoma cell lines. The PVA substitution degree calculated from 1H-NMR was found to be 5.0, 8.2, 15.3 (nicotinoyl moiety:PVA monomer molar ratio), while capillary electrophoresis analysis on the complexes revealed that the drug loadings were 0.95, 1.20, 4.76 (ATRA:polymer w:w) for PVA substitution degrees of 5.0, 8.2, and 15.3, respectively. Complexation strongly increased ATRA aqueous solubility, which reached 1.20 ± 0.25 mg/mL. The DLS measurements of the polymers and the complexes in aqueous solutions revealed mean sizes always below 400 nm, low polydispersity (min 0.202 ± 0.013, max 0.450 ± 0.032), and size almost unaffected by concentration. Drug fractional release did not exceed 8 after 48 h. The cytotoxicity studies against neuroblastoma cell lines outlined a significant growth inhibition effect of complexed ATRA with respect to free ATRA. These data suggest that the systems analyzed may be suitable carriers for parenteral administration of ATRA and other hydrophobic antitumor drugs, where the carriers are required to improve drug aqueous solubility and delay drug release almost after their accumulation in solid tumors.
- All-trans retinoic acid
- Drug release from the complexes improved biological activity
- Drug-amphiphilic polymer complexes
- Improved drug aqueous solubility
- Polyvinylalcohol-nicotinoyl esters
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmaceutical Science