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Methotrexate (MTX) is the first line agent for therapy against rheumatoid arthritis (RA); however, orally its efficacy is hampered by poor solubility, less permeability, short plasma half-life and reduced bioavailability. Meanwhile, parenteral formulations are associated with severe adverse effects. In an attempt to improve the efficacy of MTX, we synthesized polycaprolactone-polyethylene glycol-polycaprolactone (PCL-PEG-PCL) triblock copolymer by ring opening copolymerization reaction and used it as a carrier for the fabrication of MTX-loaded nanomicelles. Surfactant free, self-assembled nanomicelles were prepared by nanoprecipitation technique and optimized through central composite design. The optimized nanomicelles exhibited a size distribution of 31nm and an encapsulation efficiency of 91%. In vitro, the nanomicelles exhibited hemocompatibility, sustained release and significantly high uptake in lipopolysaccharide activated macrophages. To facilitate application on the skin, optimized nanomicelles were loaded into carbopol 934-based hydrogel having eucalyptus oil as a penetration enhancer. Eucalyptus oil significantly improved the permeation of nanomicelles through the skin (p<0.001). When hydrogel was applied on the RA mice model, nanomicelles exhibited preferentially highest accumulation in the inflamed joints than other organs. As compared with the free MTX, MTX nanomicelles significantly improved the pharmacokinetic (4.34 folds greater half-life, 3.68 folds higher AUC0-t and 3.15 folds higher mean residence time) and pharmacodynamic profile ascertained through low inflammatory cytokines expression, improved oxidation protection, recovered behavioral responses and radiological analysis. Methotrexate nanomicelles-based hydrogel also significantly reduced the hepatotoxicity and did not activate the immune system. These results suggest that the MTX-loaded nanomicelles-based transdermal hydrogel can prove to be a promising agent against RA.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: ACS nano
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