Delivery of analgesic peptides to the brain by nano-sized bolaamphiphilic vesicles made of monolayer membranes Academic Article uri icon


  • Inefficient drug delivery to the brain is a major obstacle for pharmacological management of brain diseases. We investigated the ability of bolavesicles – monolayer membrane vesicles self-assembled from synthetic bolaamphiphiles that contain two hydrophilic head groups at each end of a hydrophobic alkyl chain – to permeate the blood–brain barrier and to deliver the encapsulated materials into the brain. Cationic vesicles with encapsulated kyotorphin and leu-enkephalin (analgesic peptides) were prepared from the bolalipids GLH-19 and GLH-20 and studied for their analgesic effects in vivo in experimental mice. The objectives were to determine: (a) whether bolavesicles can efficiently encapsulate analgesic peptides, (b) whether bolavesicles can deliver these peptides to the brain in quantities sufficient for substantial analgesic effect, and to identify the bolavesicle formulation/s that provides the highest analgetic efficiency. The results indicate that the investigated bolavesicles can deliver analgesic peptides across the blood–brain barrier and release them in the brain in quantities sufficient to elicit efficient and prolonged analgesic activity. The analgesic effect is enhanced by using bolavesicles made from a mixture the bolas GLH-19 (that contains non-hydrolyzable acetylcholine head group) and GLH-20 (that contains hydrolysable acetylcholine head group) and by incorporating chitosan pendants into the formulation. The release of the encapsulated materials (the analgesic peptides kyotorphin and leu-enkephalin) appears to be dependent on the choline esterase (ChE) activity in the brain vs. other organs and tissues. Pretreatment of experimental animals with pyridostigmine (the BBB-impermeable ChE inhibitor) enhances the analgesic effects of the studied formulations. The developed formulations and the approach for their controlled decapsulation can serve as a useful modality for brain delivery of therapeutically-active compounds.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013