Development and evaluation of tocopherol-rich argan oil-based nanoemulsions as vehicles possessing anticancer activity

J Biomed Nanotechnol. 2012 Dec;8(6):944-56. doi: 10.1166/jbn.2012.1460.


In recent years, diverse nanoemulsion vehicles (NEs) have been developed with vast potential for improving therapeutic index of clinically approved and experimental drugs. Using oils rich in omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), several promising nanoemulsion formulations have been developed recently for oral and systemic administration. The aim of our present work is to successfully develop and characterize optimized nanoemulsion platform, using the PUFA-rich argan oil that contain several important anti-inflammatory and antimitotic natural components. Using various emulsifying mixtures of polyethoxylated solutol HS-15 and polyethyleneglucol Vitamin E succinyl ester (TPGS), to form different NEs showing extended shelf-life stability. The physicochemical properties of prototype argan NEs were analyzed and utilizing a 32 full factorial design, followed by biocompatibility screen, using normal vascular myocytes and areolar fibroblasts. While 90-180 day stability of NEs correlated with TPGS:solutol surfactant blend ratios, adverse effects on integrity of test cultures were only noted at high TPGS content in the emulsifier system, exceeding 80%. Finally, the anti-proliferative efficacy of selected stable and acceptably biocompatible nanoscale TPGS-emulsified argan oil formulations was investigated using murine breast and colon carcinoma cells. The IC50 values of the combination of argan oil and TPGS (40-80% wt of emulsifiers) were 5-9 folds lower compared to TPGS-free and argan-oil free control NEs. Argan oil NE, stabilized with Vitamin E TPGS and solutol HS mixtures, demonstrated significant pro-apoptotic effect on both test cancer cell lines, indicating built-in anticancer properties for such NE platform, potentially enhancing overall antineoplastic effects of incorporated candidate chemotherapeutic agents.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colonic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor / methods
  • Emulsions / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Mice
  • Models, Chemical
  • Nanomedicine / methods*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Tocopherols / chemistry*
  • Vitamin E / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Emulsions
  • Plant Oils
  • Vitamin E
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • argan oil
  • tocophersolan
  • Tocopherols