Purpose: The influence of polymer architecture on cellular uptake and transport across Caco-2 cells of novel amphiphilic polyelectrolyte-insulin nanocomplexes was investigated. Method: Polyallylamine (PAA) (15 kDa) was grafted with palmitoyl chains (Pa) and subsequently modified with quaternary ammonium moieties (QPa). These two amphiphilic polyelectrolytes (APs) were tagged with rhodamine and their uptake by Caco-2 cells or their polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs) with fluorescein isothiocyanate-insulin (FITC-insulin) uptake were investigated using fluorescence microscopy. The integrity of the monolayer was determined by measurement of transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER). Insulin transport through Caco-2 monolayers was determined during TEER experiments. Result: Pa and insulin were co-localised in the cell membranes while QPa complexes were found within the cytoplasm. QPa complex uptake was not affected by calcium, cytochalasin D or nocodazole. Uptake was reduced by co-incubation with sodium azide, an active transport inhibitor. Both polymers opened tight junctions reversibly where the TEER values fell by up to 35 % within 30 minutes incubation with Caco-2 cells. Insulin transport through monolayers increased when QPa was used (0.27 ngmL-1 of insulin in basal compartment) compared to Pa (0.14 ngmL-1 of insulin in basal compartment) after 2 hours. Conclusion: These APs have been shown to be taken up by Caco-2 cells and reversibly open tight cell junctions. Further work is required to optimise these formulations with a view to maximising their potential to facilitate oral delivery of insulin.
- amphiphilic polyelectrolytes
- transepithelial electrical resistance
- quaternary ammonium moiety