Curcumin is a polyphenolic compound isolated from the rhizomes of the plant Curcuma longa and shows intrinsic anti-cancer properties. Its medical use remains limited due to its extremely low water solubility and bioavailability. Addressing this problem, drug delivery systems accompanied by nanoparticle technology have emerged. The present study introduces a novel nanocarrier system, so-called CurcuEmulsomes, where curcumin is encapsulated inside the solid core of emulsomes.
CurcuEmulsomes are spherical solid nanoparticles with an average size of 286 nm and a zeta potential of 37 mV. Encapsulation increases the bioavailability of curcumin by up to 10,000 fold corresponding to a concentration of 0.11 mg/mL. Uptaken by HepG2 human liver carcinoma cell line, CurcuEmulsomes show a significantly prolonged biological activity and demonstrated therapeutic efficacy comparable to free curcumin against HepG2 in vitro - with a delay in response, as assessed by cell viability, apoptosis and cell cycle studies. The delay is attributed to the solid character of the nanocarrier prolonging the release of curcumin inside the HepG2 cells.
Incorporation of curcumin into emulsomes results in water-soluble and stable CurcuEmulsome nanoformulations. CurcuEmulsomes do not only successfully facilitate the delivery of curcumin into the cell in vitro, but also enable curcumin to reach its effective concentrations inside the cell. The enhanced solubility of curcumin and the promising in vitro efficacy of CurcuEmulsomes highlight the potential of the system for the delivery of lipophilic drugs. Moreover, high degree of compatibility, prolonged release profile and tailoring properties feature CurcuEmulsomes for further therapeutic applications in vivo.