J Control Release 2020 Nov 18;327:456-466. Epub 2020 Aug 18.
Department of Ophthalmology, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA; The Center for Nanomedicine at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA; Departments of Pharmaceutics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA; Department of Ophthalmology, Massey Cancer Center, Center for Pharmaceutical Engineering, Institute for Structural Biology, Drug Discovery & Development, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA. Electronic address:
Corneal neovascularization (NV) predisposes patients to compromised corneal transparency and visional acuity. Sunitinib malate (Sunb-malate) targeting against multiple receptor tyrosine kinases, exerts potent antiangiogenesis. However, the rapid clearance of Sunb-malate eye drops administered through topical instillation limits its therapeutic efficacy and poses a challenge for potential patient compliance. Sunb-malate, the water-soluble form of sunitinib, was shown to have higher intraocular penetration through transscleral diffusion following subconjunctival (SCT) injection in comparison to its sunitinib free base formulation. However, it is difficult to load highly water-soluble drugs and achieve sustained drug release. We developed Sunb-malate loaded poly(D,L-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microspheres (Sunb-malate MS) with a particle size of approximately 15 μm and a drug loading of 7 wt%. Sunb-malate MS sustained the drug release for 30 days under the in vitro infinite sink condition. Subconjunctival (SCT) injection of Sunb-malate MS provided a prolonged ocular drug retention and did not cause ocular toxicity at a dose of 150 μg of active agent. Sunb-malate MS following SCT injection more effectively suppressed the suture-induced corneal NV than either Sunb-malate free drug or the placebo MS. Local sustained release of Sunb-malate through the SCT injection of Sunb-malate MS mitigated the proliferation of vascular endothelial cells and the recruitment of mural cells into the cornea. Moreover, the gene upregulation of proangiogenic factors induced by the pathological process was greatly neutralized by SCT injection of Sunb-malate MS. Our findings provide a sustained release platform for local delivery of tyrosine kinase inhibitors to treat corneal NV.