Advanced therapeutic inhalation aerosols of a Nrf2 activator and RhoA/Rho kinase (ROCK) inhibitor for targeted pulmonary drug delivery in pulmonary hypertension: design, characterization, aerosolization, in vitro 2D/3D human lung cell cultures, and in vivo efficacy

  • Maria F. Acosta (Creator)
  • Priya Muralidharan (Creator)
  • Carissa L. Grijalva (Creator)
  • Michael D. Abrahamson (Creator)
  • Don Hayes (Creator)
  • Jeffrey R. Fineman (Creator)
  • Stephen M. Black (Creator)
  • Heidi Mansour (Creator)
  • Jeffrey R. Fineman (Creator)
  • Stephen M. Black (Creator)



Inhalable nanostructured microparticles of simvastatin, a Nrf2 activator and RhoA/Rho kinase (ROCK) inhibitor, were rationally designed for targeted pulmonary delivery as dry powder inhalers (DPIs) for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension (PH). Advanced particle engineering design technology was employed to develop inhalable dry powders using different dilute feed concentrations and spray drying pump rates. Several analytical techniques were used comprehensively to characterize the physicochemical properties of the resulting powders. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to visualize particle morphology (shape), surface structure, size, and size distribution. Karl Fischer titration (KFT) was employed to quantify the residual water content in the powders. X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD) was used to determine crystallinity. Hot-stage microscopy (HSM) under cross-polarizing lens was used to observe the presence or absence of birefringence characteristic of crystallinity. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) was employed to quantify thermotropic phase behavior. Attenuated total reflectance (ATR)-Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy were used to determine the molecular fingerprint of simvastatin powders before and after particle engineering design. In vitro aerosol dispersion performance was performed with three different Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved human DPI devices. Cell viability and transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) were demonstrated using different in vitro human pulmonary cell two and three-dimensional models at the air–liquid interface, and in vivo safety in healthy rats by inhalation. Efficacy was demonstrated in the in vivo lamb model of PH. Four different inhalable powders of simvastatin were successfully produced. They possessed nanostructured surfaces and were in the inhalable size range. Simvastatin retained its crystallinity following particle engineering design. The more dilute feed concentration spray dried at the lower pump rate produced the smallest particles. All powders successfully aerosolized with all three DPI human devices. Inhaled simvastatin as an aerosol restored the endothelial function in the shunt lamb model of PH, as demonstrated by the reduction of pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) in response to the endothelium-dependent vasodilator acetylcholine.The reviews of this paper are available via the supplemental material section.
Date made available2021
PublisherSAGE Journals

Cite this