Mucus penetrating properties of soft, distensible lipid nanocapsules

Hanpeng Chen, Edward D.H. Mansfield, Arcadia Woods, Vitaliy V. Khutoryanskiy, Ben Forbes, Stuart A. Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
95 Downloads (Pure)


Designing nanomaterials to release their drug pay-load upon exposure to an exogenous trigger can help to direct drug delivery, but how the triggered release, which often modifies the nanomaterial properties, influences the biological fate of these systems is currently unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate how the triggered drug release from PEG coated, soft, 50 nm distensible lipid nanocapsules (LNC) influenced their diffusion across a mucus barrier. The translocation speed of the non-triggered LNC across a 35 µm thick purified gastric mucin (PGM) barrier was 3 times faster (30.08 ± 2.49 × 10 −10 cm 2 s −1 ) compared to equivalent-sized negatively charged polystyrene particles (9.87 ± 0.61 × 10 −10 cm 2 s −1 , p < 0.05). In cystic fibrosis mucus (CFM), harvested from patient primary cells, the non-triggered LNC translocation speed was similar to the PGM, but the polystyrene particle diffusion was so slow it could not be measured. The trigger induced LNC distension process had no effect on the particle diffusion rate in both PGM and CFM (p > 0.05) in a static mucus barrier, but when shear was applied to the barrier the distended LNCs diffused more slowly (3.97 ± 1.38 × 10 −8 cm 2 s −1 , p < 0.05) compared to the non-distended materials (4.94 ± 0.04 × 10 −8 cm 2 s −1 ). This data suggested the rapid mucus penetration of the distended LNCs, despite their increased size, was a consequence of their capacity to take a less tortuous path through the barrier, i.e., they experienced less steric hinderance, compared to the non-distended LNC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-84
Number of pages9
Early online date25 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diffusion
  • Lipid
  • Mucoadhesion
  • Mucus
  • Nanomaterial
  • Nanoparticle
  • Penetration
  • Polystyrene
  • Size
  • Surface charge
  • Zeta potential


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