NAD+-associated-hyaluronic acid and poly(L-lysine) polyelectrolyte complexes: An evaluation of their potential for ocular drug delivery

Saoirse Casey-Power, Camila Vardar, Richie Ryan, Gautam Behl, Peter McLoughlin, Mark E. Byrne, Laurence Fitzhenry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study details the formation and characterisation of a novel nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+)-associated polymeric nanoparticle system. The development of a polyelectrolyte complex (PEC) composed of two natural polyelectrolytes, hyaluronic acid and poly(L-lysine), and an evaluation of its suitability for NAD+ ocular delivery, primarily based on its physicochemical properties and in vitro release profile under physiological ocular flow rates, were of key focus. Following optimisation of formulation method conditions such as complexation pH, mode of addition, and charge ratio, the PEC was successfully formulated under mild formulation conditions via polyelectrolyte complexation. With a size of 235.1 ± 19.0 nm, a PDI value of 0.214 ± 0.140, and a zeta potential value of – 38.0 ± 1.1 mV, the chosen PEC, loaded with 430 µg of NAD+ per mg of PEC, exhibited non-Fickian, sustained release at physiological flowrates of 10.9 ± 0.2 mg of NAD+ over 14 h. PECs containing up to 200 µM of NAD+ did not induce any significant cytotoxic effects on an immortalised human corneal epithelial cell line. Using fluorescent labeling, the NAD+-associated PECs demonstrated retention within the corneal epithelium layer of a porcine model up to 6 h post incubation under physiological conditions. A study of the physicochemical behaviour of the PECs, in terms of size, zeta potential and NAD+ complexation in response to environmental stimuli,highlighted the dynamic nature of the PEC matrix and its dependence on both pH and ionic condition. Considering the successful formation of reproducible NAD+-associated PECs with suitable characteristics for ocular drug delivery via an inexpensive formulation method, they provide a promising platform for NAD+ ocular delivery with a strong potential to improve ocular health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-78
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics
StatePublished - Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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