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Papers of the Week

Papers: 9 Sep 2023 - 15 Sep 2023

Basic Science, Methodology

In Vitro Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Pharmacology/Drug Development


2023 Sep 14

Sci Rep




Folate-conjugated near-infrared fluorescent perfluorocarbon nanoemulsions as theranostics for activated macrophage COX-2 inhibition.


Vichare R, Crelli C, Liu L, McCallin R, Cowan A, Stratimirovic S, Herneisey M, Pollock JA, Janjic JM


Activated macrophages play a critical role in the orchestration of inflammation and inflammatory pain in several chronic diseases. We present here the first perfluorocarbon nanoemulsion (PFC NE) that is designed to preferentially target activated macrophages and can deliver up to three payloads (two fluorescent dyes and a COX-2 inhibitor). Folate receptors are overexpressed on activated macrophages. Therefore, we introduced a folate-PEG-cholesterol conjugate into the formulation. The incorporation of folate conjugate did not require changes in processing parameters and did not change the droplet size or fluorescent properties of the PFC NE. The uptake of folate-conjugated PFC NE was higher in activated macrophages than in resting macrophages. Flow cytometry showed that the uptake of folate-conjugated PFC NE occurred by both phagocytosis and receptor-mediated endocytosis. Furthermore, folate-conjugated PFC NE inhibited the release of proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-α and IL-6) more effectively than nonmodified PFC NE, while drug loading and COX-2 inhibition were comparable. The PFC NEs reported here were successfully produced on multiple scales, from 25 to 200 mL, and by using two distinct processors (microfluidizers: M110S and LM20). Therefore, folate-conjugated PFC NEs are viable anti-inflammatory theranostic nanosystems for macrophage drug delivery and imaging.