Design and physicochemical characterization of advanced spray-dried tacrolimus multifunctional particles for inhalation

Xiao Wu, Don Hayes, Joseph B. Zwischenberger, Robert J. Kuhn, Heidi M. Mansour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to design, develop, and optimize respirable tacrolimus microparticles and nanoparticles and multifunctional tacrolimus lung surfactant mimic particles for targeted dry powder inhalation delivery as a pulmonary nanomedicine. Particles were rationally designed and produced at different pump rates by advanced spray-drying particle engineering design from organic solution in closed mode. In addition, multifunctional tacrolimus lung surfactant mimic dry powder particles were prepared by co-dissolving tacrolimus and lung surfactant mimic phospholipids in methanol, followed by advanced co-spray-drying particle engineering design technology in closed mode. The lung surfactant mimic phospholipids were 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine and 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-[phosphor-rac-1-glycerol]. Laser diffraction particle sizing indicated that the particle size distributions were suitable for pulmonary delivery, whereas scanning electron microscopy imaging indicated that these particles had both optimal particle morphology and surface morphology. Increasing the pump rate percent of tacrolimus solution resulted in a larger particle size. X-ray powder diffraction patterns and differential scanning calorimetry thermograms indicated that spray drying produced particles with higher amounts of amorphous phase. X-ray powder diffraction and differential scanning calorimetry also confirmed the preservation of the phospholipid bilayer structure in the solid state for all engineered respirable particles. Furthermore, it was observed in hot-stage micrographs that raw tacrolimus displayed a liquid crystal transition following the main phase transition, which is consistent with its interfacial properties. Water vapor uptake and lyotropic phase transitions in the solid state at varying levels of relative humidity were determined by gravimetric vapor sorption technique. Water content in the various powders was very low and well within the levels necessary for dry powder inhalation, as quantified by Karl Fisher coulometric titration. Conclusively, advanced spray-drying particle engineering design from organic solution in closed mode was successfully used to design and optimize solid-state particles in the respirable size range necessary for targeted pulmonary delivery, particularly for the deep lung. These particles were dry, stable, and had optimal properties for dry powder inhalation as a novel pulmonary nanomedicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-72
Number of pages14
JournalDrug Design, Development and Therapy
StatePublished - Jan 31 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • Dry powder inhaler (DPI)
  • Immunosuppression
  • Lung surfactant
  • Lung transplant
  • Organic solution advanced spray drying
  • Phospholipid colloidal self-assemblies
  • Pulmonary nanomedicine
  • Solid-state particle engineering design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery

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