Development and advanced characterisation of antibiotic-loaded nanoparticles to fight intracellular bacteria

Abstract : The treatment of intracellular infections is very challenging given the ability of bacteria to “hide” inside the cells of the host, especially the ones of the immune system, thus hampering the action of many antimicrobial agents. The battle against these bacteria has been further exacerbated by the increasing diffusion of antimicrobial resistant strains. In this frame, nanoparticles (NPs) are a very promising strategy to overcome the limitations of free antimicrobial agents by administering them in an optimized manner.This PhD work, performed as part of the European Project ITN Cyclon Hit, aimed at the development and advanced characterisation of antibiotic-loaded biodegradable and biocompatible NPs made of poly (lactic acid) (PLA), poly (lactic-co-glycolic) (PLGA) and polycaprolactone (PCL) or of polymerised cyclodextrins (pCDs).The first two chapters are dedicated to the encapsulation of powerful but challenging drugs in polymeric NPs. Firstly, these carriers were employed for the simultaneous delivery of a potent drug combination recently discovered, ethionamide (ETH) and its booster, for tuberculosis therapy. Secondly, they were used to address the challenges related to the incorporation of a first-generation quinolone, pipemidic acid (PIP), with the aim of optimising its intracellular delivery in infections such as salmonellosis.The efficient co-incorporation of ETH and booster had to overcome several technological barriers. These drugs presented solubility, crystallisation and bioavailability-related problems which were overcome thanks to the developed NPs. Our engineered PLA and pCD NPs were both able to efficiently co-encapsulate the two molecules. Among the in depth-characterised formulations, pCDs NPs displayed the best physico-chemical properties and were shown to host the drugs both in the CD cavities and in confined spaces inside NPs crosslinked polymer. The pCD NPs were administered in vivo by endotracheal route directly to the infection site. Empty NPs were shown non-toxic after repeated pulmonary administration of high doses. Moreover, loaded pCD NPs led to a 3-log decrease in the pulmonary bacterial load of infected animals after only 6 administrations. Similarly, the incorporation of PIP faced challenges mainly related to PIP crystallization and burst release. Unfortunately, PIP displayed poor affinity for all the studied polymeric materials and its physical encapsulation was unsuccessful. Thus, an alternative approach was developed by coupling PIP to PCL by using an original catalyst-free drug-initiated reaction. The PCL-PIP conjugate self-assembled in NPs with up to 27 wt% PIP which were thoroughly characterised. However, the conjugate couldn’t be enzymatically degraded. With the design of novel PCL-PIP conjugates, this self-assembly approach could represent a promising strategy.The deep understanding of the structure and composition of complex core-corona nanocarriers containing one or two active molecules is crucial for their optimisation. The last two chapters are devoted to the innovative application of AFM-IR, an original nanospectroscopic method combining atomic force microscopy (AFM) with infrared (IR) spectroscopy, to the chemical analysis of PLGA NPs or to their label-free detection after cell internalisation.AFM-IR is able to provide chemical characterisation at the nanometer scale (resolution ~10nm). One main breakthrough here is the application of the recently developed tapping mode allowing the investigation of single polymeric NPs. The specific IR signal of NPs constituents was used to unravel the chemical composition of their core and corona as well as to precisely locate the drug. Moreover, the AFM-IR in contact mode enabled for the first time the label-free localisation and unambiguous chemical identification of NPs inside cells using the polymer IR specific response as a fingerprint. This work paves the way for countless application of this technique in the field of drug delivery.
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Elisabetta Pancani. Development and advanced characterisation of antibiotic-loaded nanoparticles to fight intracellular bacteria. Medicinal Chemistry. Université Paris-Saclay, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017SACLS513⟩. ⟨tel-02275804⟩

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