Solubilization and stabilization of beta-carotene in niosomes: delivery to cultured cells

Chemistry and Physics of Lipids
Paola PalozzaNevio Picci

Abstract

Carotenoids exhibit preventive effects against major diseases, including cancer and atherosclerosis. However, experimental studies on carotenoid functions in cultured cells are limited by the absence of an adequate method of solubilizing carotenoids, since they are unstable when exposed to light or oxygen and highly hydrophobic. In this study, we developed a niosomal formulation, consisting of non-ionic surfactants and cholesterol, which both solubilized and stabilized beta-carotene and that allowed to deliver it to cultured cells at concentrations spanning the range of physiological levels. beta-Carotene contained in niosomes was highly resistant to sunlight, high temperatures and oxidative stress induced by different sources of free radicals. The carotenoid was extremely stable in culture medium up to 96 h. Moreover, it was easily taken up by both immortalized and transformed cells at carotenoid concentrations which ranged from 0.1 to 2 microM. Therefore, niosomes provide a convenient, nontoxic and inexpensive vehicle for beta-carotene in cell culture.

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