Development and characterization of self-assembling lecithin-based mixed polymeric micelles containing quercetin in cancer treatment and an in vivo pharmacokinetic study

Ling Chun Chen, Ying Chen Chen, Chia Yu Su, Chung Shu Hong, Hsiu O. Ho, Ming Thau Sheu

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Quercetin (Que) is known to have biological benefits including an anticancer effect, but low water solubility limits its clinical application. The aim of this study was to develop a lecithin-based mixed polymeric micelle (LMPM) delivery system to improve the solubility and bioavailability of Que. The optimal Que-LMPM, composed of Que, lecithin, Pluronic® P123, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine-N-methoxy[poly(ethylene glycol)-2000] in a proportion of 3:1:17.5:2.5 (w/w), was prepared by a thin-film method. The average size, polydispersion index, encapsulating efficiency, and drug loading of Que-LMPM were 61.60±5.02 nm, 0.589±0.198, 96.87%±9.04%, and 12.18%±1.11%, respectively. The solubility of Que in the Que-LMPM system increased to 5.81 mg/mL, compared to that of free Que in water of 0.17–7.7 μg/mL. The Que-LMPM system presented a sustained-release property in vitro. The in vitro cytotoxicity assay showed that the 50% inhibitory concentration values toward MCF-7 breast cancer cells for free Que, blank LMPMs, and Que-LMPMs were >200, >200, and 110 μM, respectively, indicating the nontoxicity of the LMPM carrier, but the LMPM formulation enhanced the cytotoxicity of Que against MCF-7 cells. A cellular uptake assay also confirmed the intake of Que-LMPM by MCF-7 cells. An in vivo pharmacokinetic study demonstrated that Que-LMPMs had higher area under the concentration–time curve and a longer half-life, leading to better bioavailability compared to a free Que injection. Due to their nanosize, core–shell structure, and solubilization potential, LMPMs were successfully developed as a drug delivery system for Que to improve its solubility and bioavailability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1557-1566
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Nanomedicine
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2016



  • Bioavailability
  • Lecithin
  • Micelle
  • Mixed micelles
  • Pluronic®
  • Quercetin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Drug Discovery

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