Investigation of cytotoxicity and cell uptake of cationic beta-cyclodextrins as valid tools in nasal delivery

Giovanna Rassu, Silvia Fancello, Marta Roldo, Milo Malanga, Lajos Szente, Rossana Migheli, Elisabetta Gavini, Paolo Giunchedi

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Cyclodextrin polymers have high applicability in pharmaceutical formulations due to better biocompatibility, solubility enhancement, loading capacity and controlled drug release than their parent, cyclodextrins. The cytotoxicity and cell uptake of new cationic beta-cyclodextrin monomers and polymers were evaluated as suitable materials for nasal formulations and their protective effects on cells exposed to hydrogen peroxide were studied. PC12 and CACO-2 cells were selected as the neuronal- and epithelial-type cells, respectively, to mimic the structure of respiratory and olfactory epithelia of the nasal cavity. All cationic beta-cyclodextrin polymers tested showed dose- and time-dependent toxicity; nevertheless, at 5 µM concentration and 60 min of exposure, the quaternary-ammonium-beta-cyclodextrin soluble polymer could be recognized as nontoxic. Based on these results, a fluorescently labelled quaternary-ammonium-beta-cyclodextrin monomer and polymer were selected for uptake studies in CACO-2 cells. The monomeric and polymeric beta-cyclodextrins were internalized in the cytoplasm of CACO-2 cells; the cationic monomer showed higher permeability than the hydroxypropyl-beta-cyclodextrin, employed as comparison. Therefore, these cationic beta-cyclodextrins showed potential as excipients able to improve the nasal absorption of drugs. Furthermore, amino-beta-cyclodextrin and beta-cyclodextrin soluble polymers were able to reduce oxidative damage in PC12 and CACO-2 cells and thus could be studied as bioactive carriers or potential drugs for cell protection against oxidative stress.
Original languageEnglish
Article number658
Number of pages13
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2020


  • cationic cyclodextrin
  • cyclodextrin polymer
  • epichlorohydrin cross-linker
  • nasal delivery
  • cytotoxicity
  • cell uptake


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