Creating Tiny Silica Particles to Deliver Licorice Extract for Acne Treatment

Jenn Hoskins
2nd June, 2024

Creating Tiny Silica Particles to Deliver Licorice Extract for Acne Treatment

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Soochow University used mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSN) to improve the stability and delivery of licorice polysaccharides (GGP) for anti-acne treatments
  • The new formulation showed high entrapment efficiency (76%) and effective release (89%) at pH 5, suitable for acne-prone skin
  • In vitro and in vivo tests confirmed that the formulation increased cellular uptake by sebocytes and reduced inflammation by inhibiting key acne-related pathways
Licorice, known as "Gan-Cao" in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has long been valued for its medicinal properties. The polysaccharides found in licorice (LPs) are particularly noteworthy for their bioactive potential. However, the topical application of these herbal polysaccharides has faced limitations, primarily due to stability and delivery issues. A recent study conducted by Soochow University aimed to address these challenges by utilizing mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSN) to enhance the anti-acne efficacy of licorice polysaccharides in topical formulations[1]. The study began by extracting the polysaccharide, referred to as GGP, using a 10% NaOH solution. Chemical characterization revealed that GGP has a molecular weight of 267.9 kDa and is primarily composed of glucose (54.1%) and arabinose (19.12%), with a probable 1,4-linked glucose backbone. Following the extraction, MSN and amino-functionalized MSN were synthesized. The GGP was then entrapped and coated with polydopamine (PDA) to create a nanoparticle cargo. This formulation exhibited a high entrapment efficiency of 76% and an in vitro release rate of 89% at pH 5, which is typical for acne-prone skin. The efficacy of this formulation was further tested in vitro and in vivo. In vitro studies demonstrated a significant increase in cellular uptake by sebocytes, the cells responsible for producing sebum, which is often implicated in acne. The GGP maintained its anti-acne properties when incorporated into the synthesized nanoparticles. In vivo results were equally promising, showing that a 20% gel of MSN-NH2-GGP@PDA could mediate an inflammatory response by inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines and regulating anti-inflammatory cytokines. Additionally, the formulation inhibited the TLR2-activated-MAPK and NF-κB pathways triggered by heat-killed P. acnes, a common acne-causing bacterium. This study builds on prior research that has explored the extraction, isolation, and structural characterization of licorice polysaccharides, as well as their pharmacological activities[2]. It also aligns with findings that functional polymers responsive to various external stimuli, such as physical, chemical, and biological signals, are a promising area of study[2]. By using mesoporous silica nanoparticles, the researchers were able to stabilize the polysaccharides and enhance their delivery to the skin, addressing a significant limitation in the topical application of herbal polysaccharides. The approach of using mesoporous silica nanoparticles to stabilize and deliver bioactive compounds has also been explored in other studies. For instance, the stabilization of rutin, a glycoside of quercetin, was achieved by incorporating it into aminopropyl-functionalized mesoporous silica (NH2-MCM-41). This method not only maintained the antioxidant properties of rutin but also increased its metal-chelating activity and photostability[3]. Similarly, the inclusion of GGP in MSN and amino-functionalized MSN, followed by coating with PDA, preserved its anti-acne properties and enhanced its stability. The findings from Soochow University demonstrate a significant advancement in the topical delivery of licorice polysaccharides. By utilizing mesoporous silica nanoparticles, the researchers were able to overcome the stability and delivery challenges that have previously limited the use of these bioactive compounds in topical applications. This innovative approach offers a promising new avenue for the development of effective anti-acne treatments, leveraging the inherent medicinal properties of licorice polysaccharides while enhancing their stability and delivery to the skin.



Main Study

1) Fabrication of mesoporous silica nanoparticles for releasable delivery of licorice polysaccharide at the acne site in topical application.

Published 1st September, 2024 (future Journal edition)

Related Studies

2) Isolation, Characterization, Pharmacology and Biopolymer Applications of Licorice Polysaccharides: Review.

3) MCM-41 as a useful vector for rutin topical formulations: synthesis, characterization and testing.

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