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Rescuing a Troubled Tolcapone with PEGylated PLGA Nanoparticles: Design, Characterization, and Hepatotoxicity Evaluation.

Tolcapone is an orally active catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitor used as adjuvant therapy in Parkinson's disease. However, it has a highly hepatotoxic profile, as recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As a possible solution, nanoscience brought us several tools in the development of new functional nanomaterials with tunable physicochemical properties, which can be part of a solution to solve several drawbacks, including drug's short half-life and toxicity. This work aims to use PEGylated poly(lactic- co -glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanoparticles as a stable carrier with lower hydrodynamic size and polydispersity to encapsulate tolcapone in order to overcome its therapeutic drawbacks. Using the nanoprecipitation method, tolcapone-loaded nanoparticles with a DLC% of 5.7% were obtained (EE% of 47.0%) and subjected to a lyophilization optimization process to obtain a final shelf-stable formulation. Six different cryoprotectants in concentrations up to 10% (w/v) were tested. A formulation of PLGA nanoparticles with 3% hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HPβCD) as a cryoprotectant (PLGA-HP@Tolc), presenting sub-200 nm sizes and low polydispersity (PdI < 0.200) was selected. Cytotoxicity assays, namely, MTT and SRB, were used to study the metabolic activity and cell density of tolcapone and PLGA-HP@Tolc-treated cells. In both assays, a hepatocarcinoma cell line (HepG2) growing in glucose or glucose-free media (galactose-supplemented medium) was used. The results demonstrated that the treatment with the PLGA-HP@Tolc formulation led to a decrease in cytotoxicity in comparison to free tolcapone-treated cells in both media tested. Moreover, the elected formulation also counteracted ATP-depletion and excessive ROS production induced by tolcapone. The results suggest that HPβCD might have a dual function in the formulation: cryoprotectant and anticytotoxic agent, protecting cells from tolcapone-induced damage. Using an in vitro COMT inhibition assay, the PLGA-HP@Tolc formulation demonstrated to inhibit COMT as efficiently as free tolcapone. Overall, the results suggest that tolcapone-loaded PLGA NPs could be an interesting alternative to free tolcapone, demonstrating the same in vitro efficacy in inhibiting COMT but with a safer cytotoxic profile.

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