Multifunctional nanoemulsions for intraductal delivery as a new platform for local treatment of breast cancer

Considering that breast cancer usually begins in the lining of the ducts, local drug administration into the ducts could target cancers and pre-tumor lesions locally while reducing systemic adverse effects. In this study, a cationic bioadhesive nanoemulsion was developed for intraductal administration of C6 ceramide, a sphingolipid that mediates apoptotic and non-apoptotic cell death. Bioadhesive properties were obtained by surface modification with chitosan. The optimized nanoemulsion displayed size of 46.3 nm and positive charge, properties that were not affected by ceramide encapsulation (0.4%, w/w). C6 ceramide concentration necessary to reduce MCF-7 cells viability to 50% (EC50) decreased by 4.5-fold with its nanoencapsulation compared to its solution; a further decrease (2.6-fold) was observed when tributyrin (a pro-drug of butyric acid) was part of the oil phase of the nanocarrier, a phenomenon attributed to synergism. The unloaded nanocarrier was considered safe, as indicated by a score <0.1 in HET-CAM models, by the high survival rates of Galleria mellonella larvae exposed to concentrations ≤500 mg/mL, and absence of histological changes when intraductally administered in rats. Intraductal administration of the nanoemulsion prolonged drug localization for more than 120 h in the mammary tissue compared to its solution. These results support the advantage of the optimized nanoemulsion to enable mammary tissue localization of C6 ceramide.