Background: Curcumin is a natural, oil-soluble polyphenolic compound with potent anticancer,
anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities. In its free form, it is very poorly absorbed in the gut
due to its very low solubility. The use of nanoemulsions as carrier is a feasible way for improving curcumin
bioavailability. To this end, the choice of emulsifying agent for stabilizing the nanoemulsions is
of the upmost importance for achieving a desired functionality.
Methods: Phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidycholine enriched (PCE) with medium chain fatty
acids (42.5 mol %) in combination with glycerol as co-surfactant, were used for preparing oil-in water
nanoemulsions coded as NEPC and NEPCE, respectively.
Results: NEPCE displayed significantly smaller mean droplet size (30 nm), equal entrapment efficiency
(100%), better droplet stability and suffered lower encapsulation efficiency loss (3%) during storage
time (120 days, 4ºC) than NEPC. Bioavailability, measured in terms of area under the curve of curcumin
concentration versus time, and maximum curcumin plasma concentration, was in general terms significantly
higher for NEPCE than for NEPC, and for curcumin coarse aqueous suspension (CCS). Also,
NEPCE produced significantly higher curcumin concentrations in liver and lung than NEPC and CCS.
Conclusion: These data support the role of phosphatidylcholine enriched with medium chain fatty acids
to increase the bioavailability of nanoemulsions for therapeutic applications.