Recombinant human erythropoietin (rHu-EPO) is a glycoprotein, which is produced commercially from Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. It is used for the therapy of renal anemia and chemotherapy-induced anemia in cancer patients. Recent evidence suggests that rHu-EPO exerts tissue protective effects via multiple mechanisms which include inhibition of apoptosis, promotion of angiogenesis and decreased inflammation. After intravenous (IV) injection, the blood concentration of rHu-EPO rapidly decreases due to proteolysis resulting in a relatively short half-life of 8.5 h, which necessitates regular dosing with intervals that do not exceed 7 days. It would be desirable to develop an encapsulated formulation providing controlled release of rHu-EPO to maintain therapeutic concentrations in plasma, and for potential tissue protective applications to maintain high local therapeutic concentrations in tissue while minimizing potential unwanted systemic effects such as polycythemia and platelet activation, both of which can predispose to intravascular thrombosis. Nanoparticle encapsulation of rHu-EPO can also allow for direct injection at sites of injury in specific tissues/ organs, again minimizing systemic exposure of the drug. In this paper, we report the production of biopolymer nanoparticles by ionotropic gelation of chitosan with tripolyphosphate (TPP). The nanoparticle size distribution in aqueous solution was determined and rates of rHu-EPO release from chitosan-TPP nanoparticles were measured in PBS at 37°C. It was observed that almost 30% of the encapsulated rHu-EPO was released within the first 48 hours and thereafter a linear release profile was observed for up to 2 weeks. Total drug release over 15 days was 63% of the initial amount.
Keywords: Erythropoietin, rHu-EPO, encapsulation, controlled release, nanoparticles, chitosan, drug delivery