Nootropic nanocomplex with enhanced blood-brain barrier permeability for treatment of traumatic brain injury-associated neurodegeneration

Jeongmin Park, Eunshil Choi, Seulgi Shin, Sungsu Lim, Dohee Kim, Suji Baek, Kang Pa Lee, Jae Jun Lee, Byeong Han Lee, Bokyung Kim, Keunsoo Jeong, Ja Hyun Baik, Yun Kyung Kim, Sehoon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an intracranial injury which can induce immediate neuroinflammation and long-term neurological deficits. Methylene blue (MB) as a nootropic has a great potential to treat neurodegeneration after TBI because of its anti-inflmmatory and neuroprotective functions. However, its limited accumulation to the brain across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) remains a major hurdle to be overcome. In this paper, we present a polymer surfactant-encapsulated nanocomplex of MB as a delivery system with high BBB permeability for efficacious treatment of TBI-induced neurodegeneration. MB was formulated via electrostatically/hydrophobically directed assembly with fatty acid and Pluronic surfactant (F-127 or F-68) to construct nanocomplexes of two different colloidal sizes (<10 nm and ~108 nm in hydrodynamic diameter for NanoMB-127 and NanoMB-68, respectively). Compared to uncomplexed free MB, formulation into the ultrasmall nanocomplex (NanoMB-127) significantly enhanced the uptake of MB by blood-brain vascular endothelial bEnd3 cells in vitro, and indeed improved its BBB penetration upon systemic administration to normal mice in vivo. However, large-size NanoMB-68 showed negligible BBB crossing despite the efficient bEnd3 cell internalization in vitro, probably due to the unfavorable pharmacokinetic profile associated with its large particle size. By virtue of the efficient BBB penetration and cellular uptake, ultrasmall NanoMB-127 was shown to distinctively reduce the expression level of an inflammatory cytokine with no notable toxicity in vitro and also considerably prevent the neurodegeneration after TBI in mice at much lower doses than free MB. Overall, the Pluronic-supported nanocomplexation method allows efficient brain delivery of MB, offering a novel way of enhancing the efficacy of neurotherapeutics to treat brain diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-159
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 28

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Methylene blue
  • Neuroprotection
  • Pluronic block copolymer
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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