Hydrophobic Ion Pairing of Peptide Antibiotics for Processing into Controlled Release Nanocarrier Formulations

Hoang D. Lu, Paradorn Rummaneethorn, Kurt D. Ristroph, Robert K. Prud'Homme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Nanoprecipitation of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to form nanocarriers (NCs) is an attractive method of producing formulations with improved stability and biological efficacies. However, nanoprecipitation techniques have not been demonstrated for highly soluble peptide therapeutics. We here present a model and technique to encapsulate highly water-soluble biologic APIs by manipulating API salt forms. APIs are ion paired with hydrophobic counterions to produce new API salts that exhibit altered solubilities suitable for nanoprecipitation processing. The governing rules of ion pair identity and processing conditions required for successful encapsulation are experimentally determined and assessed with theoretical models. Successful NC formation for the antibiotic polymyxin B requires hydrophobicity of the ion pair acid to be greater than logP = 2 for strong acids and greater than logP = 8 for weak acids. Oleic acid with a logP = 8, and pKa = 5, appears to be a prime candidate as an ion pair agent since it is biocompatible and forms excellent ion pair complexes. NC formation from preformed, organic soluble ion pairs is compared to in situ ion pairs where NCs are made in a single precipitation step. NC properties, such as stability and release rates, can be tuned by varying ion pair molecular structure and ion pair-to-API molar ratios. For polymyxin B, NCs ≈ 100-200 nm in size, displaying API release rates over 3 days, were produced. This work demonstrates a new approach that enables the formation of nanoparticles from previously intractable compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-225
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Drug Discovery
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science


  • antibiotics
  • controlled release
  • hydrophobic ion pairing
  • nanocarrier


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