Chitosan nanoparticle as protein delivery carrier - Systematic examination of fabrication conditions for efficient loading and release

Quan Gan, T. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

522 Citations (Scopus)


Chitosan nanoparticles fabricated via different preparation protocols have been in recent years widely studied as carriers for therapeutic proteins and genes with varying degree of effectiveness and drawbacks. This work seeks to further explore the polyionic coacervation fabrication process, and associated processing conditions under which protein encapsulation and subsequent release can be systematically and predictably manipulated so as to obtain desired effectiveness. BSA was used as a model protein which was encapsulated by either incorporation or incubation method, using the polyanion tripolyphosphate (TPP) as the coacervation crosslink agent to form chitosan-BSA-TPP nanoparticles. The BSA-loaded chitosan-TPP nanoparticles were characterized for particle size, morphology, zeta potential, BSA encapsulation efficiency, and subsequent release kinetics, which were found predominantly dependent on the factors of chitosan molecular weight, chitosan concentration, BSA loading concentration, and chitosan/TPP mass ratio. The BSA loaded nanoparticles prepared under varying conditions were in the size range of 200-580 nm, and exhibit a high positive zeta potential. Detailed sequential time frame TEM imaging of morphological change of the BSA loaded particles showed a swelling and particle degradation process. Initial burst released due to surface protein desorption and diffusion from sublayers did not relate directly to change of particle size and shape, which was eminently apparent only after 6 h. It is also notable that later stage particle degradation and disintegration did not yield a substantial follow-on release, as the remaining protein molecules, with adaptable 3-D conformation, could be tightly bound and entangled with the cationic chitosan chains. In general, this study demonstrated that the polyionic coacervation process for fabricating protein loaded chitosan nanoparticles offers simple preparation conditions and a clear processing window for manipulation of physiochemical properties of the nanoparticles (e.g., size and surface charge), which can be conditioned to exert control over protein encapsulation efficiency and subsequent release profile. The weakness of the chitosan nanoparticle system lies typically with difficulties in controlling initial burst effect in releasing large quantities of protein molecules. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-34
Number of pages11
Volume59 (1)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces and Interfaces


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