Folic acid functionalized nanoparticles for enhanced oral drug delivery

Emilie Roger, Stephen Kalscheuer, Ameya Kirtane, Bharath Raja Guru, Alex E. Grill, Judith Whittum-Hudson, Jayanth Panyam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Citations (Scopus)


The oral absorption of drugs that have poor bioavailability can be enhanced by encapsulation in polymeric nanoparticles. Transcellular transport of nanoparticle-encapsulated drug, possibly through transcytosis, is likely the major mechanism through which nanoparticles improve drug absorption. We hypothesized that the cellular uptake and transport of nanoparticles can be further increased by targeting the folate receptors expressed on the intestinal epithelial cells. The objective of this research was to study the effect of folic acid functionalization on transcellular transport of nanoparticle- encapsulated paclitaxel, a chemotherapeutic with poor oral bioavailability. Surface-functionalized poly(D,L-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) nanoparticles loaded with paclitaxel were prepared by the interfacial activity assisted surface functionalization technique. Transport of paclitaxel-loaded nanoparticles was investigated using Caco-2 cell monolayers as an in vitro model. Caco-2 cells were found to express folate receptor and the drug efflux protein, p-glycoprotein, to high levels. Encapsulation of paclitaxel in PLGA nanoparticles resulted in a 5-fold increase in apparent permeability (P app) across Caco-2 cells. Functionalization of nanoparticles with folic acid further increased the transport (8-fold higher transport compared to free paclitaxel). Confocal microscopic studies showed that folic acid functionalized nanoparticles were internalized by the cells and that nanoparticles did not have any gross effects on tight junction integrity. In conclusion, our studies indicate that folic acid functionalized nanoparticles have the potential to enhance the oral absorption of drugs with poor oral bioavailability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2103-2110
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 02-07-2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


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