Chitosan nanoparticles as new ocular drug delivery systems: in vitro stability, in vivo fate, and cellular toxicity

Pharm Res. 2004 May;21(5):803-10. doi: 10.1023/b:pham.0000026432.75781.cb.


Purpose: To assess the potential of chitosan (CS) nanoparticles for ocular drug delivery by investigating their interaction with the ocular mucosa in vivo and also their toxicity in conjunctival cell cultures.

Methods: Fluorescent (CS-fl) nanoparticles were prepared by ionotropic gelation. The stability of the particles in the presence of lysozyme was investigated by determining the size and their interaction with mucin, by measuring the viscosity of the mucin dispersion. The in vivo interaction of CS-fl nanoparticles with the rabbit cornea and conjunctiva was analyzed by spectrofluorimetry and confocal microscopy. Their potential toxicity was assessed in a human conjunctival cell line by determining cell survival and viability.

Results: CS-fl nanoparticles were stable upon incubation with lysozyme and did not affect the viscosity of a mucin dispersion. In vivo studies showed that the amounts of CS-fl in cornea and conjunctiva were significantly higher for CS-fl nanoparticles than for a control CS-fl solution, these amounts being fairly constant for up to 24 h. Confocal studies suggest that nanoparticles penetrate into the corneal and conjunctival epithelia. Cell survival at 24 h after incubation with CS nanoparticles was high and the viability of the recovered cells was near 100%.

Conclusions: CS nanoparticles are promising vehicles for ocular drug delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry, Physical
  • Chitosan / chemistry
  • Chitosan / toxicity*
  • Cornea / drug effects
  • Cornea / metabolism
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Drug Stability
  • Fluorescein
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Microspheres
  • Mucins / chemistry
  • Mucins / metabolism
  • Muramidase / chemistry
  • Muramidase / metabolism
  • Rabbits


  • Mucins
  • Chitosan
  • Muramidase
  • Fluorescein