Oral Delivery of Honokiol Microparticles for Nonrapid Eye Movement Sleep

Mol Pharm. 2019 Feb 4;16(2):737-743. doi: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.8b01016. Epub 2019 Jan 17.


Honokiol (HNK) is a small-molecule lignin extracted from Magnolia Officinalis, demonstrating high potency in promoting nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sleep by modulating the benzodiazepine site of the GABAA receptor. However, the clinical use of HNK in the treatment of insomnia is restricted by its extremely low oral bioavailability. In the present work, enhanced oral bioavailability of HNK was achieved by loading it into poly lactide-glycolide acid microparticles (HNK-MP). After oral administration, HNK-MP demonstrated 15-fold increase of AUC0-12 h in comparison to free HNK. The maximum blood concentration ( Cmax) of HNK in HNK-MP-treated rats was 3.6 μg/mL at 2 h after oral administration, which was 6.5-fold of that in free HNK-treated rats. Oral administration of HNK-MP (20 mg/kg) efficiently increased NREM sleep by 60% by enhancing the transition from wakefulness to NREM sleep in rats. The biosafety of HNK-MP was assessed in vivo, and no damage occurred in the gastrointestinal tract. The present study provides a promising oral HNK formulation for the treatment of insomnia.

Keywords: PLGA; honokiol; microparticle; oral bioavailability; sleep.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Benzodiazepines / pharmacology
  • Biphenyl Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Biphenyl Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry
  • Electroencephalography
  • Eye Movements / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Lignans / administration & dosage
  • Lignans / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism
  • Sleep, Slow-Wave / drug effects


  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Drug Carriers
  • Lignans
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • honokiol
  • Benzodiazepines