Application of RPMI 2650 as a cell model to evaluate solid formulations for intranasal delivery of drugs

Int J Pharm. 2016 Dec 30;515(1-2):1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2016.09.086. Epub 2016 Oct 1.


During the development of intranasal drug delivery systems for local/systemic effect or brain targeting, it is necessary to assess its cytotoxicity and drug transport through nasal epithelium. In order to avoid animal experiments or the use of excised tissues, in vitro cell models, such as RPMI 2650 cells, are being preferred during recent years. Nevertheless, the deposition of solid formulations into nasal cell layers with further transepithelial transport rate of drugs has been poorly studied or reported. Thus, the purpose of this work is to further investigate RPMI 2650 cell line as an effective alternative to animal tissues for solid drug-loaded formulations cytotoxicity and drug permeation studies in order to become an option as a tool for drug discovery. Furthermore, we wanted to determine the extent to which the administration of drugs in particulate forms would differ in relation to the permeability of the same compounds applied as solutions. RPMI 2650 cells were cultured in submersed or at air-liquid interface conditions and characterized regarding transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and production of mucus. Pure ketoprofen (used as model compound) and five formulations loaded with same drug, namely solid lipid particles (Gelucire 43/01™), structured lipid particles (Gelucire 43/01™:Glyceryl monooleate) and aerogel microparticles (Alginate, Alginate:Pectin, Alginate:Carrageenan), were evaluated with RPMI 2650 model in terms of cytotoxicity and permeability of drug (applied as solution, dispersion or powder+buffer). RPMI 2650 cells were capable to grow in monolayer and multilayer, showing the same permeability as excised human nasal mucosa for sodium fluorescein (paracellular marker), with analogous TEER values and production of mucus, as referred by other authors. None of the powders showed cytotoxicity when applied to RPMI 2650 cells. Regarding permeation of drug through cell layers, not only the form of application of powders but also their physical and chemical properties affected the final permeation of active pharmaceutical ingredient. Aerogel microparticles administered directly to the cell layer (powder+buffer) exhibited the highest permeation-enhancing effect compared to the pure drug, which can be attributed to the mucoadhesive properties of the materials composing the carriers, proving to be an attractive formulation for nasal drug delivery. According to these results, RPMI 2650 showed to be a promising alternative to ex vivo or in vivo nasal models for cytotoxicity and evaluation of drug permeability of nasal drug-loaded formulations.

Keywords: Air–liquid interface; Cytotoxicity; Drug permeation; Mucus production; Nasal epithelial cell model; RPMI 2650; Transepithelial electrical resistance.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal / methods
  • Alginates / chemistry
  • Cell Line
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical / methods
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Fluorescein / chemistry
  • Glucuronic Acid / chemistry
  • Glycerides / chemistry
  • Hexuronic Acids / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Nasal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Permeability
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry
  • Powders / administration & dosage


  • Alginates
  • Glycerides
  • Hexuronic Acids
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Powders
  • Glucuronic Acid
  • monoolein
  • Fluorescein