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A new painkiller nanomedicine to by-pass the blood-brain-barrier and the use of morphine

Abstract : Enkephalin is an endogenous pentapeptide producing potent analgesia by activating opioid receptors located on central and peripheral neuronal cell membranes. However, its clinical use has historically been limited due to pharmacokinetic issues, including restricted plasma stability and blood brain barrier impermeability. The aim of this project is to create a new enkephalin-based nanomedicine targeting pain, using biocompatible and biodegradable materials for drug delivery and targeting purposes, such as squalene (squalenoylation nanotechnology). This nanotechnology presents a new concept with numerous advantages in comparison with the conventional nanocarriers, such as high drug loading and absence of “burst release”. Here, we show for the first time, that the rapidly metabolized Leu-enkephalin (LENK) neuropeptide may become pharmacologically efficient owing to its simple conjugation with the squalene (SQ) using three different chemical linkers, i.e., dioxycarbonyl (Diox), diglycolate (Dig), or amide bond (Am). The resulting prodrugs were able to self-assemble in nanoparticles in aqueous media. This new squalene-based nanoformulation prevented rapid plasma degradation of LENK and conferred to the released neuropeptide a significant anti-hyperalgesic effect in a carrageenan-induced paw edema model in rats (Hargreaves test). It should be stressed that this effect lasted 3 times longer than morphine. Pretreatment with brain impermeant opioid receptor antagonist naloxone methiodide (Nal-M) reversed the nanoparticles induced anti-hyperalgesia, indicating that LENK-SQ NPs acted through peripherally located opioid receptors. Moreover, the biodistribution of DiD-fluorescently labeled LENK-SQ NPs showed a strong accumulation of the fluorescence within the inflamed paw as well as in the liver, spleen, and lung, while no signal could be detected in the brain, confirming the peripheral effect of LENK-SQ NPs. Toxicological studies showed that despite nanoparticles accumulation in the liver, the levels of aspartate transaminase (AST) and alanine transaminase (ALT) were not increased after i.v. injection of LENK-SQ NPs, highlighting thus their safety. This study represents a novel drug targeting approach, allowing the specific delivery of LENK neuropeptide into inflamed tissues for pain alleviation.
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Jiao Feng. A new painkiller nanomedicine to by-pass the blood-brain-barrier and the use of morphine. Pharmaceutical sciences. Université Paris Saclay (COmUE), 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018SACLS502⟩. ⟨tel-02463466⟩

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