Enhanced clearing of Candida biofilms on a 3D urothelial cell in vitro model using lysozyme-functionalized fluconazole-loaded shellac nanoparticles†
Candida urinary tract biofilms are increasingly witnessed in nosocomial infections due to reduced immunity of patients and the hospital ecosystem. The indwelling devices utilized to support patients with urethral diseases that connect the unsterilized external environment with the internal environment of the patient are another significant source of urinary tract biofilm infections. Recently, nanoparticle (NP)-associated therapeutics have gained traction in a number of areas, including fighting antibiotic-resistant bacterial biofilm infection. However, most studies on nanotherapeutic delivery have only been carried out in laboratory settings rather than in clinical trials due to the lack of precise in vitro and in vivo models for testing their efficiency. Here we develop a novel biofilm-infected 3D human urothelial cell culture model to test the efficiency of nanoparticle (NP)-based antifungal therapeutics. The NPs were designed based on shellac cores, loaded with fluconazole and coated with the cationic enzyme lysozyme. Our formulation of 0.2 wt% lysozyme-coated 0.02 wt% fluconazole-loaded 0.2 wt% shellac NPs, sterically stabilised by 0.25 wt% poloxamer 407, showed an enhanced efficiency in removing Candida albicans biofilms formed on 3D layer of urothelial cell clusteroids. The NP formulation exhibited low toxicity to urothelial cells. This study provides a reliable in vitro model for Candida urinary tract biofilm infections, which could potentially replace animal models in the testing of such antifungal nanotechnologies. The reproducibility and availability of a well-defined biofilm-infected 3D urothelial cell culture model give valuable insights into the formation and clearing of fungal biofilms and could accelerate the clinical use of antifungal nanotherapeutics.