Development of coated liposomes loaded with ghrelin for nose-to-brain delivery for the treatment of cachexia

Int J Nanomedicine. 2017 Nov 28;12:8531-8543. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S147650. eCollection 2017.


The aim of the present study was to develop a ghrelin-containing formulation based on liposomes coated with chitosan intended for nose-brain delivery for the treatment of cachexia. Among the three types of liposomes developed, anionic liposomes provided the best results in terms of encapsulation efficiency (56%) and enzymatic protection against trypsin (20.6% vs 0% for ghrelin alone) and carboxylesterase (81.6% vs 17.2% for ghrelin alone). Ghrelin presented both electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions with the anionic lipid bilayer, as demonstrated by isothermal titration calorimetry. Then, anionic liposomes were coated with N-(2-hydroxy) propyl-3-trimethyl ammonium chitosan chloride. The coating involved a size increment from 146.9±2.7 to 194±6.1 nm, for uncoated and coated liposomes, respectively. The ζ-potential was similarly increased from -0.3±1.2 mV to 6±0.4 mV before and after coating, respectively. Chitosan provided mucoadhesion, with an increase in mucin adsorption of 22.9%. Enhancement of permeation through the Calu3 epithelial monolayer was also observed with 10.8% of ghrelin recovered in the basal compartment in comparison to 0% for ghrelin alone. Finally, aerosols generated from two nasal devices (VP3 and SP270) intended for aqueous dispersion were characterized with either coated or uncoated liposomes. Contrarily to the SP270 device, VP3 device showed minor changes between coated and uncoated liposome aerosols, as shown by their median volume diameters of 38.4±5.76 and 37.6±5.74 µm, respectively. Overall, the results obtained in this study show that the developed formulation delivered by the VP3 device can be considered as a potential candidate for nose-brain delivery of ghrelin.

Keywords: brain targeting; cachexia; enzyme; liposome; nasal delivery; peptide.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal / instrumentation
  • Adsorption
  • Aerosols / chemistry
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Cachexia / drug therapy*
  • Chitosan / analogs & derivatives
  • Chitosan / chemistry
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Drug Stability
  • Ghrelin / administration & dosage*
  • Ghrelin / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Liposomes / administration & dosage*
  • Liposomes / chemistry*
  • Mucins / metabolism
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds / chemistry
  • Static Electricity


  • Aerosols
  • Ghrelin
  • Liposomes
  • Mucins
  • N-(2-hydroxypropyl)-3-trimethylammonium chitosan
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • Chitosan