Calcium phosphate increases the encapsulation efficiency of hydrophilic drugs (proteins, nucleic acids) into poly(d,l-lactide-co-glycolide acid) nanoparticles for intracellular delivery
Calcium phosphate/poly(D,L-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) nanoparticles with a diameter below 200 nm, loaded with either nucleic acids or proteins, were synthesized by a water-in-oil-in-water (W1/O/W2) emulsion solvent evaporation technique. The particles were stabilized by polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and had a negative charge (zeta potential −26 mV). By the addition of calcium phosphate into the inner aqueous phase of the W1/O/W2-emulsion, the encapsulation efficiency of siRNA was increased to 37%, of DNA to 52%, and of bovine serum albumin to 78%, i.e. by a factor of 3 to 10 compared to PLGA nanoparticles without calcium phosphate. Total loadings of 8 μg siRNA, 5 μg DNA and 280 μg fluorescein isothiocyanate-labelled bovine serum albumin (FITC-BSA) per mg of PLGA nanoparticles were achieved by this method. The addition of an outer layer of either chitosan or polyethyleneimine (PEI) reversed the charge of the particles (zeta potential > +30 mV) and improved the cellular uptake as well as the endosomal escape of these particles as demonstrated by confocal laser scanning microscopy. Calcium phosphate-PLGA nanoparticles loaded with DNA encoding for enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP-DNA) showed a good transfection efficiency for epithelial cells (HeLa). Gene silencing with HeLa cells expressing eGFP gave knockdown efficiencies of 53% for anionic nanoparticles, of 68% for chitosan-coated cationic nanoparticles, and of 89% for polyethyleneimine-coated cationic nanoparticles.