Skin-targeted delivery of extracellular vesicle-encapsulated curcumin using dissolvable microneedle arrays

Extracellular Vesicles

Therapeutic benefits of curcumin for inflammatory diseases have been demonstrated. However, curcumin's potential as a clinical therapeutic has been hindered due to its low solubility and stability in vivo. We hypothesized that a hybrid curcumin carrier that incorporates albumin-binding and extracellular vesicle (EV) encapsulation could effectively address the current challenges of curcumin delivery. We further postulated that using dissolvable microneedle arrays (dMNAs) for local delivery of curcumin-albumin-EVs (CA-EVs) could effectively control skin inflammation in vivo. Mild sonication was used to encapsulate curcumin and albumin into EVs, and the resulting CA-EVs were integrated into tip-loaded dMNAs. In vitro and in vivo studies were performed to assess the stability, cellular uptake, and anti-inflammatory bioactivity of dMNA-delivered CA-EVs. Curcumin in CA-EVs exhibited at least five-fold higher stability in vitro than naïve curcumin or curcumin-EVs without albumin. Incorporating CA-EVs into dMNAs did not alter their cellular uptake or anti-inflammatory bioactivity. The dMNA embedded CA-EVs retained their bioactivity when stored at room temperature for at least 12 months. In rat and mice models, dMNA delivered CA-EVs suppressed and significantly reduced lipopolysaccharide and Imiquimod-triggered inflammation. We conclude that dMNA delivery of CA-EVs has the potential to become an effective local-delivery strategy for inflammatory skin diseases. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: We introduce and evaluate a skin-targeted delivery system for curcumin that synergistically combines albumin association, extracellular-vesicle encapsulation, and dissolvable microneedle arrays (dMNAs) . In vitro, curcumin-albumin encapsulated extracellular vesicles (CA-EVs) inhibit and reverse the LPS-triggered expression of inflammatory transcription factor NF-κB. The integration of CA-EVs into dMNAs does not affect them physically or functionally. Importantly, dMNAs extend EV storage stability for at least 12 months at room temperature with minimal loss in their bioactivity. We demonstrate that dMNA delivered CA-EVs effectively block and reverse skin inflammation in vivo in mouse and rat models.

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Cigarette smoke (CS) represents one of the most relevant environmental risk factors for several chronic pathologies. Tissue damage caused by CS exposure is mediated, at least in part, by oxidative stress induced by its toxic and pro-oxidant components. Evidence demonstrates that extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by various cell types exposed to CS extract (CSE) are characterized by altered biochemical cargo and gained pathological properties. In the present study, we evaluated the content of oxidized proteins and phospholipid fatty acid profiles of EVs released by human bronchial epithelial BEAS-2B cells treated with CSE. This specific molecular characterization has hitherto not been performed. After confirmation that CSE reduces viability of BEAS-2B cells and elevates intracellular ROS levels, in a dose-dependent manner, we demonstrated that 24 h exposure at 1% CSE, a concentration that only slight modifies cell viability but increases ROS levels, was able to increase carbonylated protein levels in cells and released EVs. The release of oxidatively modified proteins via EVs might represent a mechanism used by cells to remove toxic proteins in order to avoid their intracellular overloading. Moreover, 1% CSE induced only few changes in the fatty acid asset in BEAS-2B cell membrane phospholipids, whereas several rearrangements were observed in EVs released by CSE-treated cells. The impact of changes in acyl chain composition of CSE-EVs accounted for the increased saturation levels of phospholipids, a membrane parameter that might influence EV stability, uptake and, at least in part, EV-mediated biological effects. The present in vitro study adds new information concerning the biochemical composition of CSE-related EVs, useful to predict their biological effects on target cells. Furthermore, the information regarding the presence of oxidized proteins and the specific membrane features of CSE-related EVs can be useful to define the utilization of circulating EVs as marker for diagnosing of CS-induced lung damage and/or CS-related diseases.

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