European journal of pharmaceutical sciences : official journal of the European Federation for Pharmaceutical Sciences

Redispersible liposomal-N-acetylcysteine powder for pulmonary administration: development, in vitro characterization and antioxidant activity.

PMID 25263567


Liposomal dry powders of N-acetylcysteine (SD-NAC-Lip) were developed for pulmonary administration. Liposomes were prepared by reverse phase evaporation and spray dried using lactose (10%, w/w) as drying adjuvant. The powders were characterized according to process yield, drug content, residual water content, particle size distribution, morphology and redispersion behavior. In vitro aerosol performance was evaluated using an eight-stage Andersen Cascade Impactor. Moreover, in vitro antioxidant activity was determined by measuring thiobarbituric acid reactive species (TBARS) present in the lungs of healthy Wistar rats after induction of oxidation by iron/EDTA. The spray-drying process had a high yield (71%±2), drug content (mg/g) according to the expected value, moisture content below 9%, geometric mean diameter under 3μm with span value lower than 1. Spherical particles were observed by scanning electron microscopy. Liposomal dry-powders were able to recover the nanometric size of the original dispersion after their redispersion in aqueous medium, as shown by laser diffraction and transmission electron microscopy. Furthermore, the powders presented aerodynamic diameter of about 7μm and respirable fraction above 30%, indicating suitable properties for pulmonary use. The encapsulation of N-acetylcysteine in liposomes was essential to maintain its in vitro antioxidant activity after the drying process. In addition, the powder containing the encapsulated drug had better in vitro antioxidant activity than the liquid and solid formulations containing the non-encapsulated drug, which makes it a good candidate for the treatment of pulmonary diseases associated with oxidative stress.