Influence of preparation conditions on acyclovir-loaded poly-d,l-lactic acid nanospheres and effect of PEG coating on ocular drug bioavailability

Pharm Res. 2003 Apr;20(4):584-90. doi: 10.1023/a:1023290514575.


Purpose: The evaluation of nanosphere colloidal suspensions containing acyclovir as potential ophthalmic drug delivery systems was carried out. The influence of polymer molecular weight and type and concentration of various surfactants on nanosphere properties was studied. The ocular pharmacokinetics of acyclovir-loaded nanoparticles was evaluated in vivo and compared with an aqueous suspension of the free drug.

Methods: Nanospheres were made up of poly-d,l-lactic acid (PLA). The colloidal suspension was obtained by a nanoprecipitation process. The surface properties of PLA nanospheres were changed by the incorporation of pegylated 1,2-distearoyl-3-phosphatidylethanolamine. The mean size and zeta potential of the nanospheres were determined by light scattering analysis. The acyclovir loading capacity and release were also determined. In vivo experiments were carried out on male New Zealand rabbits. The ocular tolerability of PLA nanospheres was evaluated by a modified Draize test. The aqueous humor acyclovir levels were monitored for 6 h to determine the drug's ocular bioavailability for the various formulations.

Results: A reduction of the mean size and a decrease of the absolute zeta potential of PLA nanospheres resulted from increasing the surfactant concentration. The higher the polymer molecular weight, the smaller the nanosphere mean size. PEG-coated and uncoated PLA nanospheres showed a sustained acyclovir release and were highly tolerated by the eye. Both types of PLA nanospheres were able to increase the aqueous levels of acyclovir and to improve the pharmacokinetics profile, but the efficacy of the PEG-coated nanospheres was significantly higher than that of the simple PLA ones.

Conclusions: PEG-coated PLA nanospheres can be proposed as a potential ophthalmic delivery system for the treatment of ocular viral infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyclovir / pharmacokinetics*
  • Animals
  • Biological Availability*
  • Colloids / chemistry*
  • Colloids / pharmacokinetics
  • Cornea / drug effects
  • Cornea / metabolism
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Lactic Acid / chemistry*
  • Lactic Acid / pharmacokinetics
  • Male
  • Nanotubes / chemistry*
  • Polyesters
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Polymers / pharmacokinetics
  • Rabbits


  • Colloids
  • Drug Carriers
  • Polyesters
  • Polymers
  • Lactic Acid
  • poly(lactide)
  • Acyclovir