Inhalable Dry Powder of Bedaquiline for Pulmonary Tuberculosis: In Vitro Physicochemical Characterization, Antimicrobial Activity and Safety Studies

Pharmaceutics. 2019 Oct 1;11(10):502. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics11100502.


Bedaquiline is a newly developed anti-tuberculosis drug, conditionally approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for treating drug-resistant tuberculosis in adults. Oral delivery of bedaquiline causes severe side effects such as increased hepatic aminotransferase levels and cardiac arrhythmias (prolongation of QT-interval). This study aimed to develop inhalable dry powder particles of bedaquiline with high aerosolization efficiency to reduce the side-effects of oral bedaquiline. Bedaquiline (with or without l-leucine) powders were prepared using a Buchi Mini Spray-dryer. The powders were characterized for physicochemical properties and for their in vitro aerosolization efficiency using a next-generation impactor (NGI). The formulation with maximum aerosolization efficiency was investigated for physicochemical and aerosolization stability after one-month storage at 20 ± 2 °C/30 ± 2% relative humidity (RH) and 25 ± 2 °C/75% RH in an open Petri dish. The cytotoxicity of the powders on A549 and Calu-3 cell-lines was evaluated using the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. The powders were also evaluated for antimicrobial activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The aerodynamic diameter of the l-leucine-containing powder was 2.4 µm, and the powder was amorphous in nature. The aerosolization efficiency (fine-particle fraction) of l-leucine-containing powder (fine-particle fraction (FPF): 74.4%) was higher than the bedaquiline-only powder (FPF: 31.3%). l-leucine containing powder particles were plate-shaped with rough surfaces, but the bedaquiline-only powder was spherical and smooth. The optimized powder was stable at both storage conditions during one-month storage and non-toxic (up to 50 µg/mL) to the respiratory cell-lines. Bedaquiline powders were effective against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and had a minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) value of 0.1 µg/mL. Improved aerosolization may help to combat pulmonary tuberculosis by potentially reducing the side-effects of oral bedaquiline. Further research is required to understand the safety of the optimized inhalable powder in animal models.

Keywords: bedaquiline; dry powder; formulation; inhalation; spray-drying; tuberculosis.