Gellan-Based Composite System as a Potential Tool for the Treatment of Nervous Tissue Injuries: Cross-Linked Electrospun Nanofibers Embedded in a RC-33-Loaded Freeze-Dried Matrix

Vigani, B., Valentino, C., Cavalloro, V., Catenacci, L., Sorrenti, M., Sandri, G., Bonferoni, M.C., Bozzi, C., Collina, S., Rossi, S., Franca Ferrari

(2021) Pharmaceutics, 13(2), art. no. 164.

DOI: 10.3390/pharmaceutics13020164

ABSTRACT: Injuries to the nervous system affect more than one billion people worldwide, and dramatically impact on the patient’s quality of life. The present work aimed to design and develop a gellan gum (GG)-based composite system for the local delivery of the neuroprotective sigma-1 receptor agonist, 1-[3-(1,1′-biphen)-4-yl] butylpiperidine (RC-33), as a potential tool for the treatment of tissue nervous injuries. The system, consisting of cross-linked electrospun nanofibers embedded in a RC-33-loaded freeze-dried matrix, was designed to bridge the lesion gap, control drug delivery and enhance axonal regrowth. The gradual matrix degradation should ensure the progressive interaction between the inner fibrous mat and the surrounding cellular environment. Nanofibers, prepared by electrospinning polymeric solutions containing GG, two different grades of poly (ethylene oxide) and poloxamer, were cross-linked with calcium ions. GG-based matrices, loaded with different amounts of RC-33, were prepared by freeze-drying. Dialysis studies and solid-state characterization pointed out the formation of an interaction product between GG and RC-33. RC-33-loaded freeze-dried matrices were characterized by the capability to absorb a high buffer content, forming a gel with marked viscoelastic properties, and by RC-33 controlled release properties. The presence of cross-linked nanofibers increased matrix mechanical resistance.