Ocular drug delivery targeting the retina and retinal pigment epithelium using polylactide nanoparticles

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2003 Aug;44(8):3562-9. doi: 10.1167/iovs.02-1068.


Purpose: To study the kinetics of polylactide (PLA) nanoparticle (NP) localization within the intraocular tissues and to evaluate their potential to release encapsulated material.

Methods: A single intravitreous injection (5 micro L) of an NP suspension (2.2 mg/mL) encapsulating either Rh-6G (Rh) or Nile red (Nr) was performed. Animals were killed at various times, and the NPs localization within the intraocular tissues was studied by environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM), confocal microscopy, light microscopy histology, fluorescence microscopy, and immunohistochemistry. Eyes injected with blank NPs, free Rh, or PBS solution were used as the control.

Results: ESEM showed the flow of the NPs from the site of injection into the vitreous cavity and their rapid settling on the internal limiting membrane. Histology demonstrated the anatomic integrity of the injected eyes and showed no toxic effects. A mild inflammatory cell infiltrate was observed in the ciliary body 6 hours after the injection and in the posterior vitreous and retina at 18 to 24 hours. The intensity of inflammation decreased markedly by 48 hours. Confocal and fluorescence microscopy and immunohistochemistry showed that a transretinal movement of the NPs was gradually taking place with a later localization in the RPE cells. Rh encapsulated within the injected NPs diffused and stained the retina and RPE cells. PLA NPs were still present within the RPE cells 4 months after a single intravitreous injection.

Conclusions: Intravitreous injection of PLA NPs appears to result in transretinal movement, with a preferential localization in the RPE cells. Encapsulated Rh diffuses from the NPs and stains the neuroretina and the RPE cells. The findings support the idea that specific targeting of these tissues is feasible. Furthermore, the presence of the NPs within the RPE cells 4 months after a single injection shows that a steady and continuous delivery of drugs can be achieved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Fluorescent Dyes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Injections
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microspheres
  • Oxazines / administration & dosage
  • Oxazines / pharmacokinetics
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / metabolism*
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / pathology
  • Polyesters / administration & dosage
  • Polyesters / pharmacokinetics*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retina / pathology
  • Retina / ultrastructure
  • Rhodamines / administration & dosage
  • Rhodamines / pharmacokinetics
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Vitreous Body / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Oxazines
  • Polyesters
  • Rhodamines
  • rhodamine 6G
  • poly(lactide)
  • nile red