The In Vitro, In Vivo, and PBPK Evaluation of a Novel Lung-Targeted Cardiac-Safe Hydroxychloroquine Inhalation Aerogel

Publication: AAPS PharmSciTech
Software: GastroPlus®


Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) was repurposed for COVID-19 treatment. Subtherapeutic HCQ lung levels and cardiac toxicity of oral HCQ were overcome by intratracheal (IT) administration of lower HCQ doses. The crosslinker-free supercritical fluid technology (SFT) produces aerogels and impregnates them with drugs in their amorphous form with efficient controlled release. Mechanistic physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling can predict the lung’s epithelial lining fluid (ELF) drug levels. This study aimed to develop a novel HCQ SFT formulation for IT administration to achieve maximal ELF levels and minimal cardiac toxicity. HCQ SFT formulation was prepared and evaluated for physicochemical, in vitro release, pharmacokinetics, and cardiac toxicity. Finally, the rat HCQ ELF concentrations were predicted using PBPK modeling. HCQ was amorphous after loading into the chitosan-alginate nanoporous microparticles (22.7±7.6 μm). The formulation showed a zero-order release, with only 40% released over 30 min compared to 94% for raw HCQ. The formulation had a tapped density of 0.28 g/cm3 and a loading efficiency of 35.3±1.3%. The IT administration of SFT HCQ at 1 mg/kg resulted in 23.7-fold higher bioavailability, fourfold longer MRT, and eightfold faster absorption but lower CK-MB and LDH levels than oral raw HCQ at 4 mg/kg. The PBPK model predicted 6 h of therapeutic ELF levels for IT SFT HCQ and a 100-fold higher ELF-to-heart concentration ratio than oral HCQ. Our findings support the feasibility of lung-targeted and more effective SFT HCQ IT administration for COVID-19 compared to oral HCQ with less cardiac toxicity.

By Mo’tasem M. Alsmadi, Mays M. Jaradat, Rana M. Obaidat, Mohammad Alnaief, Rabab Tayyem & Nasir Idkaidek