Scientific articles
1: Drug Deliv. 2007 Jan-Feb;14(1):1-8.
Liposomes and micellar dispersions for delivery of benzoheterocyclic derivatives of distamycina.
Cortesi R, Esposito E, Cuccu I, Romagnoli R, Menegatti E, Zaid AN, Nastruzzi C.
In this article we describe the production and characterization of specialized delivery systems for some distamycin derivatives (DD), namely liposomes and micellar dispersions. All the formulations were designed to increase the solubility of DD in an aqueous environment and to reduce the possible toxicity problems related to the administration of these drugs. For instance, liposomes were prepared by reverse phase evaporation technique followed by extrusion through polycarbonate filters, then characterized in terms of dimensions, morphology, and encapsulation efficacy. The analysis of their in vitro antiproliferative activity on cultured human and mouse leukemic cells demonstrated that liposomes and micellar dispersions containing DD exert quite different effects. These effects were compared with those shown by the free drug depending on type of drug and also cell line used.

2: Cell Transplant. 2006;15(1):55-65.
Effects of simulated microgravity on the morphology and function of neonatal porcine cell clusters cultured with and without Sertoli cells
Luca G, Calvitti M, Nastruzzi C, Macchiarulo G, Becchetti E, Neri LM, Capitani S, Basta G, Brunetti P, Calafiore R, Cameron DF.
Human islet allografts are well known to induce full and sustained remission of hyperglycemia, with complete normalization of key metabolic parameters. Nevertheless, acquiring human islets, even from cadaveric human donor pancreases, remains a significant impediment to successful transplantation therapy for diabetes. To overcome this difficulty, neonatal porcine cell clusters (NPCCs) have been considered for human islet substitutes because they are easily obtained by collagenase digestion of the neonatal piglet pancreas. Currently, the major hurdle in using NPCCs for xenograft is the delay (time lag) in achieving the posttransplant normalization of blood glucose levels in animal diabetic recipients. The present work is the first attempt to evaluate whether incubation of NPCCs in simulated microgravity, in the presence or absence of Sertoli cells (SC), may reduce the maturation time lag of beta-cells by differentiation acceleration in vitro, thereby expediting production, viability, and acquisition of functional competence of pretransplantation beta-cell-enriched islets. Following a 3-day incubation period, NPCCs maintained in conventional culture, NPCCs incubated in simulated microgravity in the HARV biochamber, and NPCCs plus co-incubated SC in simulated microgravity were examined for viability, morphology, and insulin secretion. Results show that NPCCs grown alone in the HARV biochamber are superior in quality, both in terms of viability and functional competence, when compared to other culture pretreatment protocols. This finding strongly suggests that NPCC pretreatment in simulated microgravity may enhance the transplantation success of NPCCs in the diabetic recipient.

3: Int J Oncol. 2005 Dec;27(6):1559-66.
Dielectrophoresis-based 'Lab-on-a-chip' devices for programmable binding of microspheres to target cells.
Borgatti M, Altomare L, Abonnec M, Fabbri E, Manaresi N, Medoro G, Romani A, Tartagni M, Nastruzzi C, Di Croce S, Tosi A, Mancini I, Guerrieri R, Gambari R.
There is a general agreement on the fact that the Laboratory on chip (Lab-on-a-chip) technology will enable laboratory testing to move from laboratories employing complex equipments into non-laboratory settings. In this respect, dielectrophoresis (DEP) is a very valuable approach to design and produce Lab-on-a-chip devices able to manipulate microparticles and cells. In this study, we report the application of DEP-based devices for facilitating programmable interactions between microspheres and target tumor cells. We used two Lab-on-a-chip devices, one (the SmartSlide) carrying 193 parallel electrodes and generating up to 50 cylinder-shaped DEP cages, the other (the DEP array) carrying 102,400 arrayed electrodes and generating more than 10,000 spherical DEP cages. We determined whether these devices can be used to levitate and move microspheres and cells in order to obtain a forced interaction between microspheres and target cells. The first major point of this manuscript is that the DEP-based SmartSlide can be used for transfection experiments in which microspheres and target cells are forced to share the same DEP cage, leading to efficient binding of the microspheres to target cells. The data obtained using the DEP array show that this system allows the sequential, software-controlled binding of individually and independently moved single microspheres to a single target tumor cell. To our knowledge, this is the first report on the possible use of a DEP-based Lab-on-a-chip device for guided multiple binding of singularly moved microspheres to a single tumor cell. This approach can be of interest in the field of drug discovery, delivery and diagnosis.

4: J Pharm Pharmacol. 2005 Sep;57(9):1169-76.
Effect of charge and lipid concentration on in-vivo percutaneous absorption of methyl nicotinate from liposomal vesicles.
Puglia C, Esposito E, Menegatti E, Nastruzzi C, Rizza L, Cortesi R, Bonina F.
We have investigated the influence of charge and lipid concentration on the in-vivo percutaneous absorption of a model compound, methyl nicotinate (MN), from liposomal vesicles. MN-loaded liposomes were produced by the reverse-phase evaporation method (REV) using different concentrations of phosphatidyl choline (PC), in association with surfactants such as dioctadecyl dimethyl ammonium bromide (DDAB18) and dicetyl phosphate (DCP), which impart a positive or negative charge to the systems, respectively. The liposomal suspensions were then processed to hydrogels and used to study in-vivo the MN permeation profile. MN was chosen as the model compound since it was capable of causing cutaneous erythema, the intensity and duration of which was proportional to the amount entering the living epidermis over time. The extent of the erythema was monitored by reflectance spectrophotometry, a non-invasive technique. In-vivo findings showed an interesting MN delayed release, which was proportional to the amount of phospholipids in each liposomal formulation. Furthermore, it could be noted that the erythematous effect was more prolonged when MN was delivered from neutral or negatively-charged liposomal forms.

5: Biomaterials. 2005 Jul;26(20):4337-47.
Cellulose acetate butyrate microcapsules containing dextran ion-exchange resins as self-propelled drug release system.
Fundueanu G, Constantin M, Esposito E, Cortesi R, Nastruzzi C, Menegatti E.
Sulfopropylated dextran microspheres (SP-Ms), (Dm = 80 microm) loaded with a water soluble drug (Tetracycline HCl), were included in cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB) microcapsules. Spherical CAB microcapsules were obtained by oil in water (o/w) solvent evaporation method in the presence of an inert solvent as cyclohexane (CyH) or n-hexane (N-Hex), and different excipients (Phospholipon, Tween, Span, Eudragit RS 100). Chloroform was found to be the best solvent for the preparation of the microcapsules. Also, the sphericity as well as the porosity of the microcapsules was controlled by the presence of an inert solvent. The final concentration of the drug in CAB microparticles was up to 25% (w/w). The key factors for the successful preparation were also the viscosity of the polymer, while the wettability of the resulted microcapsules, the temperature of the preparation, and the porosity have modulated the release of the drug. The higher is the amount of encapsulated microspheres the thinner is the CAB wall between the compartments created by their incorporation. When these microspheres come in contact with the release medium, the pressure created by their swelling breaks the polymer film and the drug starts to be released. The more drug is released in phosphate buffer the higher is the swelling degree of the encapsulated ion exchange resins and the force created by their supplementary swelling will break the more resistants walls. In this way a self-propelled drug release is achieved, until almost all drug was eliberated.

6: Cell Transplant. 2005;14(5):249-61.
Accelerated functional maturation of isolated neonatal porcine cell clusters: in vitro and in vivo results in NOD mice.
Luca G, Nastruzzi C, Calvitti M, Becchetti E, Baroni T, Neri LM, Capitani S, Basta G, Brunetti P, Calafiore R.
Neonatal porcine cell clusters (NPCCs) might replace human for transplant in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). However, these islets are not immediately functional, due to their incomplete maturation/ differentiation. We then have addressed: 1) to assess whether in vitro coculture of islets with homologous Sertoli cells (SC) would shorten NPCCs' functional time lag, by accelerating the beta-cell biological maturation/differentiation; 2) to evaluate metabolic outcome of the SC preincubated, and microencapsulated NPCCs, upon graft into spontaneously diabetic NOD mice. The islets, isolated from < 3 day piglets, were examined in terms of morphology/viability/function and final yield. SC effects on the islet maturation pathways, both in vitro and in vivo, upon microencapsulation in alginate/poly-L-ornithine, and intraperitoneal graft into spontaneously diabetic NOD mice were determined. Double fluorescence immunolabeling showed increase in beta-cell mass for SC+ neonatal porcine islets versus islets alone. In vitro insulin release in response to glucose, as well as mRNA insulin expression, were significantly higher for SC+ neonatal porcine islets compared with control, thereby confirming SC-induced increase in viable and functional beta-cell mass. Graft of microencapsulated SC+ neonatal porcine islets versus encapsulated islets alone resulted in significantly longer remission of hyperglycemia in NOD mice. We have preliminarily shown that the in vitro NPCCs' maturation time lag can dramatically be curtailed by coincubating these islets with SC. Graft of microencapsulated neonatal porcine islets, precultured in Sertoli cells, has been proven successful in correcting hyperglycemia in stringent animal model of spontaneous diabetes.

7: Transpl Immunol. 2004 Dec;13(4):289-96.
Optimized parameters for microencapsulation of pancreatic islet cells: an in vitro study clueing on islet graft immunoprotection in type 1 diabetes mellitus.
Basta G, Sarchielli P, Luca G, Racanicchi L, Nastruzzi C, Guido L, Mancuso F, Macchiarulo G, Calabrese G, Brunetti P, Calafiore R.
Alginate (AG)-based microcapsules may provide a selective permeable and biocompatible physical barrier to prevent islet graft (TX)-directed immune destruction. However, extent of the achieved immunoprotection will continue to be variable and unpredictable until the role of the individual mechanisms involved with TX-related inflammatory cell and immune reactivity are clarified. Macrophages (M) are believed to play a pivotal role in controlling the host/TX interaction and its consequences. We then have studied the effects of isolated rat M and their secretory products on allogeneic islets enveloped in variably sized and configured microcapsules, within in vitro mixed islet-M cocultures. In particular, we aimed to determine the sequence of immune or not immune specific cascade of early events that derive from such on interaction. One of the specific aims was to assess whether the membrane's physical intactness and conversely its even minimal rupture, along with the microcapsules' size (i.e., large vs. small) would significantly impact M reactivity and, thereby, the encapsulated islet viability and function. Special care was taken to evaluate extent of the elicited reactivity by meticulously monitoring cytokine, N2 derivative, and other proinflammatory protein curve profiles during the early M activation process. The study has preliminarily shown that, for equally formulated microcapsules, the capsular size and membrane's morphologic thoroughness are key to prevent M reactivity and possibly avoid the intracapsular islet cell damage. While elucidation of pathways involved with the encapsulated islet TX-directed host's responsiveness actually is in progress, it has clearly emerged that microcapsules should comply with well-defined physical properties and formulation specifications in order to obviate the primum movens of the inflammatory reaction process.

8: Curr Drug Targets. 2004 Nov;5(8):735-44.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNA)-DNA chimeras targeting transcription factors as atool to modify gene expression.
Borgatti M, Finotti A, Romanelli A, Saviano M, Bianchi N, Lampronti I, Lambertini E, Penolazzi L, Nastruzzi C, Mischiati C, Piva R, Pedone C, Gambari R.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs)-DNA chimeras have been recently described as DNA mimics constituted of a part of PNA and of a part of DNA. We have demonstrated that double stranded molecules based on PNA-DNA chimeras bind to transcription factors in a sequence-dependent manner. Accordingly, these molecules can be used for transcription factor decoy (TFD) pharmacotherapy. Effects of double stranded PNA-DNA chimeras targeting NF-kappaB and Sp1 were determined on in vitro cultured human cells and were found to be comparable to those observed using double-stranded DNA decoys. The TFD molecules based on PNA-DNA chimeras can be further engineered by addition of short peptides facilitating cell penetration and nuclear localization. Therefore, these engineered molecules could be of great interest for in vivo experiments for non-viral gene therapy of a variety of diseases, including neoplastic and viral diseases, for which the TFD approach has been already demonstrated as a very useful strategy.

9: J Biomed Sci. 2004 Sep-Oct;11(5):697-704.
Complexation to cationic microspheres of double-stranded peptide nucleic acid-DNA chimeras exhibiting decoy activity.
Mischiati C, Sereni A, Finotti A, Breda L, Cortesi R, Nastruzzi C, Romanelli A, Saviano M, Bianchi N, Pedone C, Borgatti M, Gambari R.
The major aim of this paper was to determine whether cationic microspheres (CM), consisting of the permeable polymer Eudragit RS 100 plus the cationic surfactant dioctadecyl-dimethyl-ammonium bromide (DDAB(18)), could bind to double-stranded peptide nucleic acid PNA-DNA-PNA (PDP) chimeras exhibiting decoy activity against NF-kappaB transcription factors. Microspheres were produced by the 'solvent evaporation method' and centrifugation at 500, 1,000 and 3,000 rpm to obtain different-sized microparticles. Microsphere morphology, size and size distribution were determined by optical and electron microscopy observations. In order to determine their binding activity, double-stranded DNA-based and PDP-based decoy molecules were incubated with different amounts of microparticles in the presence of 100 ng of either (32)P-labeled DNA-DNA or DNA-PDP hybrid molecules or cold PDP-PDP hybrids. The complexes were analyzed by agarose gel electrophoresis. The resistance of (32)P-labeled DNA-DNA and DNA-PDP molecules in the presence of serum or cellular extracts was evaluated after binding to CM by gel electrophoresis analysis. DDAB(18) Eudragit RS 100 microspheres are able to bind to DNA-PDP and PDP-PDP hybrids, to deliver these molecules to target cells and to protect DNA-PDP molecules from enzymatic degradation in simulated biological fluids. In addition, when assayed in ex vivo conditions, DDAB(18) Eudragit RS 100 microspheres exhibited low toxicity. The results presented in this paper demonstrate that CM can be considered suitable formulations for pharmacogenomic therapy employing double-stranded PDP chimeras.

10: Drug Deliv. 2004 Mar-Apr;11(2):83-8.
Liposomes containing distamycins: preparation, characterization and antiproliferative activity.
Cortesi R, Romagnoli R, Menegatti E, Esposito E, Cervellati F, Nastruzzi C.
This article describes the production and characterization of two liposome formulations containing antitumor drugs, namely distamycin A (Dist) and a new alkyl derivative of distamycin A (C16-Dist). Egg-PC/cholesterol liposomes (4:1 mol/mol) were prepared by reverse phase evaporation technique followed by extrusion through polycarbonate filters. The encapsulation efficiency was found to be almost complete for C16-Dist (99.8%), while native distamycin A showed a lower yield (19.0%). The in vitro antiproliferative activity of the distamycins-containing liposomes determined on human leukaemic K562 cells, was 11-fold and 8-fold higher for native and alkyl derivative distamycin A, respectively, compared with that of the corresponding free drugs. Liposomal formulations show an increase in the activity and specificity of distamycins in experimental antitumor therapy.

11: AAPS PharmSci. 2004 Jan 20;6(1):E2.
Formulations for natural and peptide nucleic acids based on cationic polymeric submicron particles.
Cortesi R, Mischiati C, Borgatti M, Breda L, Romanelli A, Saviano M, Pedone C, Gambari R, Nastruzzi C.
This article describes the production and characterization of cationic submicron particles constituted with Eudragit RS 100, plus different cationic surfactants, such as dioctadecyl-dimethyl-ammonium bromide (DDAB18) and diisobutylphenoxyethyl-dimethylbenzyl ammonium chloride (DEBDA), as a transport and delivery system for DNA/DNA and DNA/peptide nucleic acid (PNA) hybrids and PNA-DNA chimeras. Submicron particles could offer advantages over other delivery systems because they maintain unaltered physicochemical properties for long time periods, allowing long-term storage, and are suitable for industrial production. Submicron particles were characterized in terms of size, size distribution, morphology, and zeta potential. Moreover, the in vitro activity and ability of submicron particles to complex different types of nucleic acids were described. Finally, the ability of submicron particles to deliver functional genes to cells cultured in vitro was determined by a luciferase activity assay, demonstrating that submicron particles possess superior transfection efficiency with respect to commercially available, liposome-based transfection kits.

12: Biomaterials. 2003 Aug;24(18):3101-14.
Multifunctional microcapsules for pancreatic islet cell entrapment: design, preparation and in vitro characterization.
Luca G, Basta G, Calafiore R, Rossi C, Giovagnoli S, Esposito E, Nastruzzi C.
Great advances in cell transplantation have been made, including the recent, remarkable success in pancreatic islet transplantation for the treatment of type 1 diabetes mellitus. Unfortunately, the transplanted cells are very susceptible to oxidative stress that cause severe damage to either allo- or xenogeneic islets upon graft in diabetic patients. Consequently, the transplanted islet functional life span is significantly shortened. The aim of this study was to examine the possible effects of antioxidants on in vitro cultured adult rat islets, and to evaluate the effects of a prolonged-release formulation, in form of cellulose acetate (CA) microspheres, on Vitamin D(3) activity. Isolated rat islets, both free and entrapped in microspheres were treated with Vitamin D(3). The effects of the vitamin were studied at 3, 6 and 9 days of in vitro cell culture. According to insulin secretory patterns, treatment with Vitamin D(3) of both free and CA entrapped microspheres, increased the insulin output as compared to untreated controls. Such positive effects were confirmed under islet static incubation with glucose at day 6. These results suggest that pancreatic islets can be advantageously treated with anti-oxidising vitamins before implantation, and speculatively, with the help of special delivery systems, throughout the islet cell life span, in the post-transplant time period.

13: Drug Deliv. 2003 Jul-Sep;10(3):139-49.
Aminated polysaccharide microspheres as DNA delivery systems.
Constantin M, Fundueanu G, Cortesi R, Esposito E, Nastruzzi C.
This article describes the production and characterization of cationic microparticles based on pullulan and starch for the delivery of nucleic acids. The microparticles were prepared by chemically cross-linkinking of a polymer solution dispersed in organic phase, followed by amination with N, N-diethyl-2-chloroethyl amine hydrochloride, or N-glycidyl-N,N-dimethyl-N methylammonium chloride. The association of desoxyribonucleotide (DNA) with positively charged microparticles was determined. The association capacity and the affinity of microspheres for DNA were investigated as a function of type of polysaccharide, content and basicity of the amino groups. It was found that the both types of carriers synthetized display a high affinity for defibrotide due to the high porosity of polysaccharide microspheres (PMs). The in vitro release kinetics from microspheres showed an initial fast release of DNA (30 min) followed by slower release rate over 14 days. DNA release was influenced by the ionic strength of the receiving fluid. In addition, DNA release was slightly more rapid from pullulan than from starch complexes. DNA stability studies were performed by agarose gel, indicating no degradation even after 14 days. All the produced cationic microspheres were able to quantitatively load DNA. The release of DNA from PMs was strongly affected by the ionic strength of the receiving fluid. Finally, agarose gel electrophoresis of DNA released from microspheres indicated that no DNA degradation occurs even after 14 days of release from PMs.

14: J Cosmet Sci. 2003 May-Jun;54(3):239-50.
Diffusion of preservatives from topical dosage forms: a comparative study.
Esposito E, Bortolotti F, Nastruzzi C, Menegatti E, Cortesi R.
A study of the diffusion of parabens from topical formulations is presented here. In particular, four different topical formulations, namely, a water-in-oil emulsion, an oil-in-water emulsion, and two hydrophilic gels (Pemulen gel and Carbopol gel) were produced, containing a mixture of three common parabens, namely, methylparaben (MP), ethylparaben (EP), and propylparaben (PP). An analytical method based on liquid extraction, followed by reversed-phase HPLC for the quantitative determination of MP, EP, and PP, was developed. The method allowed good separation of paraben mixtures and high percentages of recovery (> than 97%). The diffusion kinetics of parabens from the produced formulations was determined by an in vitro system based on a Franz cell assembled with a synthetic membrane, followed by a reversed-phase HPLC analytical method. The comparative study demonstrated that, in the case of emulsions, diffusion coefficients are a function of the substituent of preservatives: the higher the solubility, the higher the diffusion of parabens. On the contrary, in the case of the hydrophilic gels, the higher the parabens solubility, the lower the diffusion coefficients. The method described here could represent a means of controlling the extent of diffusion of parabens from topical formulations in order to minimize percutaneous absorption and to control the availability of microbes.

: Oncol Res. 2003;13(5):279-87.
Resistance of decoy PNA-DNA chimeras to enzymatic degradation in cellular extracts and serum.
Borgatti M, Romanelli A, Saviano M, Pedone C, Lampronti I, Breda L, Nastruzzi C, Bianchi N, Mischiati C, Gambari R.
Double-stranded molecules based on peptide nucleic acids (PNAs)-DNA chimeras carrying binding sites for known transcription factors could be of great interest in decoy pharmacotherapy of neoplastic diseases. For instance, decoy molecules recognizing Sp1 and NF-kappaB transcription factors were found to inhibit tumor cell growth and invasion activity. In this respect, we have recently found that double-stranded PNA-DNA chimeras carrying NF-kappaB binding sites inhibit the binding of NF-kappaB p52 and p50 transcription factors to target DNA molecules. In this article we determined the resistance of double-stranded decoy molecules based on PNA-DNA chimeras to exonucleases (both 3'-->5' and 5'-->3' exonucleases), endonucleases, and 5'-phosphatases. In addition, we performed experiments aimed at determining the resistance of these molecules in cellular extracts and serum. Finally, we used liposomes as protective agents in experimental conditions in which the decoy molecules employed were found to be unstable (high concentrations of enzymes, cellular extracts, or serum). The results obtained demonstrated that decoy molecules based on PNA-DNA chimeras are more resistant than DNA-based decoys to exo- and endonucleases, serum, and cellular extracts. In addition, the resistance of DNA/PNA hybrids in the presence of high concentrations of serum and cellular extracts was increased after complexation to cationic liposomes, due to the fact that double-stranded PNA-DNA-PNA chimeras bind to these delivery systems. The results obtained in the present study support the proposal of molecules based on PNA-DNA chimeras for an efficient decoy treatment of tumor cells both in vitro and in vivo.

16: Int J Pharm. 2002 Aug 21;242(1-2):329-34.
Spray dried Eudragit microparticles as encapsulation devices for vitamin C.
Esposito E, Cervellati F, Menegatti E, Nastruzzi C, Cortesi R.
The aim of the present paper was to study production of methacrylate microparticles for the delivery (administration) of ascorbic acid via the oral route. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that may be involved in the reduction of the risk of certain types of cancer, such as colorectal cancer. As polymers different acrylic compounds were considered, namely Eudragit RL, L and RS. Spray-drying was used as preparation method of vitamin C/Eudragit microspheres. Microspheres were first characterized by size and morphology by scanning electron microscopy, then in vitro release kinetics by mean of dialysis method were studied. Although the produced microparticles were unable to slow down the release of the drug with respect to the free form of ascorbic acid, these microspheres showed a good morphology and size distribution that permit to propose them as candidate for the delivery of vitamin C as associated therapy in the treatment of colorectal cancer by oral route.

17: Biochem Pharmacol. 2002 Aug 15;64(4):609-16.
Cationic liposomes as delivery systems for double-stranded PNA-DNA chimeras exhibiting decoy activity against NF-kappaB transcription factors.
Borgatti M, Breda L, Cortesi R, Nastruzzi C, Romanelli A, Saviano M, Bianchi N, Mischiati C, Pedone C, Gambari R.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) have been recently proposed as useful molecules in pharmacogenetic therapy, especially due to the fact that they show a very high stability with respect to DNA and RNA. However, PNAs are not efficient decoy molecules, are characterized by negligible cell internalization and low solubility and are not suitable to be delivered by liposomes. With respect to the biological activity of PNA-based molecules, PDP deserve great consideration, due to the fact that they exhibit high levels of solubility, and are expected to be resistant to proteinases and exonucleases. In this manuscript we determined whether double-stranded molecules based on PNA-DNA chimeras containing NF-kappaB binding sites, exhibit decoy activity against NF-kappaB transcription factors. In addition, we determined whether they can be complexed by cationic liposomes. The results obtained demonstrated that hybrids based on PNA-DNA chimeras are powerful decoy molecules against NF-kappaB p52 transcription factor. In addition, we found that cationic liposomes can be proposed for in vitro delivery to target cells of these decoy molecules. The results presented in this paper are thus of practical importance, since the simplicity and the versatility of the cationic liposome technology have made cationic liposomes useful nonviral gene delivery systems for human gene therapy.

18: Biomaterials. 2002 Jun;23(11):2283-94.
Production of lipospheres as carriers for bioactive compounds.
Cortesi R, Esposjto E, Luca G, Nastruzzi C.
Aim of the present paper was to investigate the influence of preparation parameters on the production of lipospheres (LS) for drug delivery. LS composed of triglycerides and monoglycerides were alternatively produced by melt dispersion technique, solvent evaporation or w/o/w double emulsion method. The influence of preparation parameters, such as (a) type and amount of lipids, (b) presence and concentration of surfactants, (c) stirring speed and (d) type of stirrer was studied. In the case of LS prepared by melt dispersion, the use of a lipid composition of cetyl alcohol/cholesterol (2:1, w/w), a 5% (w/w) gelatine solution (50 bloom grades) and 1000 rpm stirring speed resulted in the production of spherical particles, with high percentage of recovery (82%, w/w) a mean diameter of 80 microm and a narrow size distribution. In the case of LS prepared by solvent evaporation, the best results in terms of LS morphology, recovery and size distribution were obtained by the use of a lipid composition of tristearin/monostearate (66:34, w/w), a 1% (w/w) PVA solution, a 750 rpm stirring speed and a 55 mm three-blade turbine rotor. The solvent evaporation method resulted in the production of LS characterised by a smaller size (20 microm mean diameter) but poor mechanical properties with respect to particles with the same composition obtained by the melt dispersion technique (170 microm mean diameter). The use of a combination of lipids and a methacrylic polymer (Eudragit RS 100) overcame this problem, resulting in the production of spherical particles, with a narrower size distribution and good mechanical properties. Two lipophilic drugs, such as retinyl acetate and progesterone, and one hydrophilic drug, sodium cromoglycate (SCG), were encapsulated in LS as model compounds. Lypophilic drugs displayed satisfactory encapsulation efficiencies (over 70% w/w), while SCG was very scarcely encapsulated (about 2% w/w). To solve this drawback, the use of a w/o/w double emulsion strategy was proposed, enabling to increase the encapsulation of SCG up to 50% w/w. Finally, in vitro drug release studies were performed, showing that all drugs were released in a control manner. In particular. the retinyl acetate release efficacy within the first 8 h was 27% of the total amount of the drug, while in the same period, the amount of progesterone released was 63%. With regard to SCG containing LS, the release of the drug was largely influenced by the type of stabiliser of the primary emulsion, in any case the SCG release reached the 100% of the total amount of drug after 5 h from the beginning of the experiment.

19: Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001 Nov;944:160-79.
Pectin-based microspheres: a preformulatory study.
Esposito E, Cortesi R, Luca G, Nastruzzi C.
This paper reports on (a) the production of pectin microspheres and (b) the influence of different experimental parameters and ionic crosslinking on morphological and dimensional characteristics of pectin microspheres. Morphological and dimensional characteristics of pectin were analyzed as a function of the type of pectin, the dispersing phase, the stirring speed, and the emulsifying agent. Crosslinking by calcium chloride and the encapsulation of antibiotics (i.e., metronidazol and tetracycline) gave particles morphologically similar to empty particles but with slower swelling kinetic.

20: Drug Discov Today. 2001 Sep 1;6(17):893-904.
Delivery systems for DNA-binding drugs as gene expression modulators.
Cortesi R, Nastruzzi C.
Despite the large number of publications describing the synthesis and physicocharacterization of the binding between drugs and DNA, relatively few examine drug delivery systems (DDSs) for these molecules. The aim to find DDSs for DNA-binding drugs (DBDs) was prompted mainly to reduce the toxicity and/or enhance the tumor specificity of systemically administered drugs. With this in mind, we have reviewed the biological effects of some DBDs that are currently used as antitumor drugs and describe a brief selection of DDSs currently in clinical trials or on the market.

21: AAPS PharmSciTech. 2001 Aug 26;2(3):E15.
Improved function of rat islets upon co-microencapsulation with Sertoli's cells in alginate/poly-L ornithine.
Luca G, Calafiore R, Basta G, Ricci M, Calvitti M, Neri L, Nastruzzi C, Becchetti E, Capitani S, Brunetti P, Rossi C.
The purpose of this study was to assess whether Sertoli's cells would improve functional performance of homologous pancreatic islets within microcapsules. Purified rat Sertoli's cells were co-enveloped with islets in microcapsules that had been fabricated with alginic acid and poly-L-ornithine. Confocal laser microscopy was used to determine any mitogenic effects of Sertoli's cells on islets beta-cells. Insulin secretion from islets, with or without Sertoli's cells, was examined, and grafts of Sertoli's cells with islets in microcapsules into diabetic mice were carried out. Co-incubation of Sertoli's cells with islets resulted in a significant increase in the islet beta-cell mitotic rate, which was coupled with significantly higher insulin release under glucose stimulation, as compared to controls. Grafts of co-microencapsulated Sertoli's cells with islets resulted in prolongation of the achieved normoglycemia in the animals receiving Sertoli's cells with islets as compared to controls that received islets only. Sertoli's cells do promote mitogenic activities upon in vitro co-incubation with islets, whose in vitro functional and in vivo post-transplant consequences were evident. Sertoli's cells could, therefore, be co-microencapsulated with islets for transplantation in diabetic recipients.

22: Int J Pharm. 2001 May 7;218(1-2):13-25.
Acrylic microspheres for oral controlled release of the biguanide buformin.
Fundueanu G, Mocanu G, Constantin M, Carpov A, Bulacovschi V, Esposito E, Nastruzzi C.
Spherical microparticles based on methacrylic acid-methyl methacrylate copolymer have been developed. The method chosen for the preparation of such microparticles was suspension radical copolymerization of acrylic comonomers in the presence of the ethyleneglycol dimethacrylate as crosslinking agent. The microparticles obtained were characterised by inverse size exclusion chromatography, scanning electron microscopy, swelling degree and exchange capacity. The porous volume of the microspheres ranged from 0.086 ml/g for the microparticles produced by a methacrylic acid/methyl methacrylate ratio of 1/3 and a 10% degree of crosslinking, to 8.57 ml/g for the microparticles produced by a methacrylic acid/methyl methacrylate ratio of 3/1 and 2% degree of crosslinking (in 0.1 N NaCl in phosphate buffer pH 7.4). Also the pore diameter of the swollen microparticles ranged from a few to 120 A. Buformin tosylate - a classical hypoglycaemic drug - was included in the polymer network of the microparticles during the polymerization process. Due to the water solubility of the drug and its low solubility in the organic phase, the entrapment yield did not exceed 15%. However the amount of encapsulated drug as well as the drug released from the microparticles, was dependent on the methacrylic acid/methyl methacrylate ratio, the degree of crosslinking and solvent/comonomers ratio.

23: J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2000 Dec 15;75(2-3):121-8.
Modulation of estrogen receptor gene transcription in breast cancer cells by liposome delivered decoy molecules.
Piva R, del Senno L, Lambertini E, Penolazzi L, Nastruzzi C.
It is well known that breast carcinomas without estrogen receptor (ER) have a poor prognosis and do not respond to antiestrogenic therapy. In analyzing the question of the lack of ER gene expression, we have considered the possibility to modify the ER gene expression by transfecting ER-negative breast cancer cells with a polymerase chain reaction product mimicking a putative negative regulatory region (--3258/--3157) inside the P3 ER gene promoter. Here we have demonstrated the efficacy of the selected sequence used as a decoy molecule in restoring the ER gene transcription. When this DNA was complexed and delivered by cationic liposomes (PC:DOTAP) a significant increase in the decoy effect was obtained. Breast cancer cells receiving the combination treatment responded substantially better to reactivation of quiescent ER gene than cells that had received DNA with calcium phosphate. This information may be useful for a series of in vitro transfections and also for in vivo application of the decoy strategy that is a potential therapeutic tool to control disease-related genes such as ER gene in breast cancer.

: Diabetes Nutr Metab. 2000 Dec;13(6):301-7.
Effects of anti-oxidizing vitamins on in vitro cultured porcine neonatal pancreatic islet cells.
Luca G, Nastruzzi C, Basta G, Brozzetti A, Saturni A, Mughetti D, Ricci M, Rossi C, Brunetti P, Calafiore R.
Oxidative stress may cause severe cellular damage to both allo- and xeno-transplanted islets, additional to islet graft directed immunity, in diabetic patients. We thus aimed to examine the effects of antioxidants on in vitro culture-maintained, neonatal porcine cell clusters (NPCCs). NPCCs were treated with antioxidants (vitamins D3 and E) by a certain time of their maturation and differentiation process. Insulin recovery showed that both vitamins D3 and E, unlike untreated controls, resulted in preservation of the islet function for significantly long periods of time. Such effects were also confirmed during NPCCs in vitro static incubation with high glucose. Furthermore, morphologic examination of NPCCs demonstrated that at 16 days of cell culture beta-cell clusters were significantly larger and more intact when exposed to the vitamins as compared to controls. According to these preliminary results, because the employed vitamins, known to retain anti-oxidizing properties, seemed to clearly improve NPCCs morphology and function, they may represent a potentially useful tool for islet culture maintenance in the pre-transplant time period.

: J Biomed Mater Res. 2000 Oct;52(1):40-52.
Rheologic and NMR characterization of monoglyceride-based formulations.
D'Antona P, Parker WO, Zanirato MC, Esposito E, Nastruzzi C.
This paper describes the production and characterization of semi-solid formulations based on monoglycerides from canola oil and water as drug-delivery systems. In order to obtain new formulations with different characteristics in terms of viscosity, bioadhesiveness, and solubilization capacity, a third component was added to the monoglyceride-water system. Nine excipients were tested, namely soy oil, isopropylmyristate, isopropylpalmitate, tripalmitin, tristearin, glyceryl monostearate, glycerol, propylene glycol, and ethanol. In particular, the effect of each excipient on the viscosity and stability of the formulation was investigated. It was found that ethanol dramatically influenced the viscosity of the monoglyceride-water system, resulting in the formation of stable forms. In addition, ethanol suitably could be used for the solubilization of water-insoluble lipophilic drugs. This promising ternary system was characterized by microscopic, NMR spectroscopic, and rheologic techniques. (1)H and (13)C NMR studies were made of Myverol to verify the molecular structure and isomer distributions of this commercial monoacylglycerol mixture. The microstructure of an isotropic solution consisting of Myverol [1.8% (w/w)], ethanol (42.9%), and water (55.3%) was studied by the multi-component self-diffusion NMR method. From the self-diffusion coefficient (D) of the monoglycerides (8.8 x 10-11 m(2)/s), an "apparent spherical hydrodynamic radius" of ca. 2.48 nm was calculated for the micellar aggregate. A nearly spherical shape is consistent with these values since the extended hydrocarbon chain of the longest monoglyceride (17 carbons) is ca. 2.2 nm long. The D's of water and ethanol reveal they do not associate (no attractive nonbonding interactions) appreciably with the fatty acid micelles. Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

26: J Control Release. 2000 Aug 10;68(2):237-49.
Liposomes as carriers for DNA-PNA hybrids.
Nastruzzi C, Cortesi R, Esposito E, Gambari R, Borgatti M, Bianchi N, Feriotto G, Mischiati C.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) are DNA mimics composed of N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine units. This structure gives to PNAs (a) resistance to DNases and proteinases, (b) capacity to hybridize with high affinity to complementary sequences of single-stranded RNA and DNA, and (c) capacity to form highly stable (PNA)(2)-RNA triplexes with RNA targets. Furthermore, DNA-PNA hybrid molecules are capable to reversibly interact with DNA-binding proteins, being therefore of interest for studies on regulation of gene expression by the decoy approach. The major conclusion of this paper is that cationic liposomes are able to efficiently complexate DNA-PNA hybrid molecules and mediate their binding to target cells. Our results are of some interest, since, unlike commonly used nucleic acids analogs, PNA oligomers are not taken up spontaneously into the cells. In addition, they are not suitable for an efficient delivery with commonly used liposomal formulations. Transfection of PNA-DNA hybrid molecules to in vitro cultured cells could be of great interest to determine the applications of these new reagents to experimental alteration of gene expression.

27: J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Aug;48(8):3572-5.
In vitro antiproliferative activity of isothiocyanates and nitriles generated by myrosinase-mediated hydrolysis of glucosinolates from seeds of cruciferous vegetables.
Nastruzzi C, Cortesi R, Esposito E, Menegatti E, Leoni O, Iori R, Palmieri S.
A comparison of the effect of isothiocyanates and nitriles derived from some glucosinolates, namely, epi-progoitrin, sinalbin, glucotropaeolin, glucocheirolin, and glucoraphenin, on human erythroleukemic in vitro cultured cells was studied. Many studies have in fact evidenced that a consumption of vegetable containing glucosinolates could reduce the development of colorectal cancer. In the experimental conditions used, the production of isothiocyanates and nitriles from glucosinolates is almost quantitative as confirmed by HPLC or GC-MS analysis. The obtained results demonstrated that in general nitriles are considerably less potent than the corresponding isothiocyanates in inhibiting cancer cell growth. Particularly, the isothiocyanates inhibitory activity on K562 cells growth is higher in the case of products derived from epi-progoitrin, glucotropaeolin, glucoraphenin, and glucocheirolin; while for nitriles the higher activity in inhibiting K562 cells growth is showed by sinalbin-derived product. Considering the antiproliferative activity found for isothiocyanates and nitriles, further studies will be aimed to the possible application of glucosinolate-derived products as chemopreventive cancer agents for the reduction of colorectal cancer.

28: Antisense Nucleic Acid Drug Dev. 2000 Jun;10(3):205-15.
Effect of DNA complexation and freeze-drying on the physicochemical characteristics of cationic liposomes.
Cortesi R, Esposito E, Nastruzzi C.
We describe the use of saccharides, such as sorbitol, mannitol, sucrose, maltodextrin, and dextran, as cyoprotectants for freeze-drying cationic liposomes. Saccharides can protect liposomes either by interacting with phospholipid headgroups or by forming an amorphous glass surrounding the vesicles, thus preventing aggregation, mechanical rupture of membrane, fusion of liposomes, and drug leakage. We have particularly considered liposome characteristics, such as size, zeta potential, and ability in complexing DNA, before and after freeze-drying. Our study indicates that cationic liposomes are able to maintain liposome characteristics after lyophilization and rehydration and maintain the ability to complex DNA even if the strength of the interaction forces was of lower intensity with respect to liposomes before lyophilization.

29: AAPS PharmSciTech. 2000 May 6;1(2):E9.
Influence of formulation and process parameters on pellet production by powder layering technique.
Nastruzzi C, Cortesi R, Esposito E, Genovesi A, Spadoni A, Vecchio C, Menegatti E.
The goal of the present study was to evaluate the influence of the formulation and operating conditions on pellet preparation by pan technique. To this end, a new pelletization process, typified by the application of powdered drug on sugar-based cores using the GS coating system was studied. Inert cores were intermittently treated with micronized drug powder and adhesive solution. This treatment led to the formation of multiple layers of drug particles around an inert core resulting in the production of pellets that can further be coated by different polymers to obtain modified release formulations. Different procedures have been used to evaluate a series of important parameters such as initial core weight; speed of powder application; speed, type, and position of the atomizers; atomization degree; temperature; and air cap. Good yield of drug layering was obtained by adjusting the quantity of both the drug powder to apply and the binder solution. Pellets obtained following the optimal operating conditions (defined in a pre-formulation study) were film coated with the acrylic polymer Eudragit L30D in order to produce a model formulation consisting of enteric polymer-coated pellets containing ibuprofen. During its preparation, the formulation showed no degradation of the drug; moreover, a low percentage of residual humidity was obtained, indicating that this system is very efficient for the production of highly stable formulations. This study showed the good performance of the GS automated pan-coating system in obtaining enteric coated pellets prepared by powder layering technique using aqueous solutions.

: AAPS PharmSciTech. 2000 Mar 3;1(1):E2.
Liposome-based formulations for the antibiotic nonapeptide Leucinostatin A: Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy characterization and in vivo toxicologic study.
Ricci M, Sassi P, Nastruzzi C, Rossi C.
Leucinostatin-A is a nonapeptide isolated from Paecilomyces marquandii, Paecilomyces lilacinus A257, and Acremonium sp., exerting remarkable phytotoxic, antibacterial (especially against Gram-positive) and antimycotic activities. With the aim to find alternative formulation for in vivo administration, a number of Leucinostatin-A-loaded liposomal formulations have been prepared and characterized. Both large unilamellar vesicles and multilamellar vesicles consisting of synthetic and natural lipids were evaluated. In addition, to determine the nature of peptide-membrane interactions and the stability of liposomes loaded with Leucinostatin-A, a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy study was performed. The results suggest that the mode of interaction of the peptide is dependent on its concentration, on bilayer fluidity, and on liposome type. Finally, the LD50 of both free and liposome-delivered Leucinostatin-A was determined in mice. These results suggest that the incorporation of Leucinostatin-A into liposomes may result in decreased Leucinostatin-A toxicity, as the intraperitoneal administration of Leucinostatin-A-loaded liposomes reduced the LD50 of Leucinostatin-A 15-fold.

: Pharm Dev Technol. 2000;5(2):267-78.
Production of Eudragit microparticles by spray-drying technique: influence of experimental parameters on morphological and dimensional characteristics.
Esposito E, Roncarati R, Cortesi R, Cervellati F, Nastruzzi C.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of operating parameters on the characteristics of methacrylate microparticles prepared by spray-drying technique. Eudragit microparticles were prepared by a spray-drying method. The influence of different experimental parameters (i.e., solvent, feed rate, air flow rate, air-drying temperature, and aspiration flow rate) on microparticle morphology, size distribution, and recovery was studied. In addition, different Eudragit types and Eudragit RS concentrations were employed. Optical and electron microscopy were employed to analyze microparticle morphology and dimensional distribution. Finally, prednisolone as model drug was encapsulated in Eudragit RS microparticles. Low feed rate values yielded the best results in terms of microparticle morphology. Changes in nebulizing air flow did not result in a corresponding effect on microparticle characteristics. An increase of air-drying temperature resulted in a reduction of microparticle dimension and recovery. A low flow of drying air was preferable because this resulted in microparticles with an optimal morphology. The polymer concentration affected both morphology and dimensions of microparticles. The encapsulation of prednisolone led to good incorporation efficiencies without altering percentage of recovery, morphology, and mean dimension of the microparticles. The selection of appropriate parameters yielded spray-dried Eudragit RS microparticles characterized by good morphology and narrow dimensional distribution
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