Optimization and Characterization of Thymoquinone-Loaded Liposomes with Enhanced Topical Anti-inflammatory Activity


Thymoquinone, the major constituent of Nigella sativa oil has been found to have a promising topical anti-inflammatory activity; however, exaggerated heat and photo-sensitivity and lipophilicity prevent the best use of this promising product. The present work aimed to formulate an ideal thymoquinone liposomal system for topical delivery. Different liposomal systems were developed using thin film hydration method by applying different cholesterol molar concentrations, different total lipid molar concentrations, and different drug-to-lipid ratios. Morphological characterization of the prepared formulae was performed using polarized light, scanning electron microscope, and transmission electron microscope. The optimized formula (F12) was selected on the basis of enhanced permeation through the skin and was incorporated into chitosan gel for topical application. The gel formulation was clear with suitable skin permeation and exhibited acceptable rheological properties. Using carrageenan-induced paw edema in rats, the developed chitosan gel (F12) showed significant superior in vivo anti-inflammatory activity over the chitosan gel of the TQ (p < 0.05) and comparable effect to the marketed indomethacin gel. As a conclusion, results revealed the potential of formulating thymoquinone as liposomal formulation in enhancing the anti-inflammatory effect compared to the TQ solution.

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The authors wish to thank the Lipoid GmbH company (Germany) for the generous gift of Phospholipon 90H. Also, we are indebted to Dr. Rehab Refaee (Department of Histology, Faculty of Medicine, Minia University) for her contribution concerning the histology of skin observation.

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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Correspondence to Eman Alaaeldin.

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The scope of this work is to make the best use of TQ as an anti-inflammatory drug via the encapsulation within a suitable liposomal system which enhances the topical permeation of the drug. To the best of our knowledge, topical anti-inflammatory liposomes of TQ have not been designed yet.

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Mostafa, M., Alaaeldin, E., Aly, U.F. et al. Optimization and Characterization of Thymoquinone-Loaded Liposomes with Enhanced Topical Anti-inflammatory Activity. AAPS PharmSciTech 19, 3490–3500 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1208/s12249-018-1166-1

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  • liposomes
  • thymoquinone
  • skin
  • enhanced drug deposition, enhanced stability