Influence of cross-linking agent type and chitosan content on the performance of pectinate-chitosan beads aimed for colon-specific drug delivery.
ABSTRACT Pectinate-chitosan-beads aimed for colon theophylline delivery have been developed. The effect of zinc or calcium ions as cross-linking agent, and of chitosan concentration on the properties and colon-targeting performance of beads was investigated. Beads were characterized for morphology, entrapment efficiency and mucoadhesion properties. Zn-pectinate-chitosan beads formed a stronger gel network than the Ca-containing ones, enabling a greater entrapment efficiency, which further increased with chitosan content, probably due to polyelectrolyte complexes formation. Transport studies across Caco-2 cells evidenced a significant (p > 0.05) drug permeation increase from all beads with respect to drug alone, attributable to the enhancer and/or mucoadhesion properties of the polymers, and Ca-pectinate-chitosan beads were more effective than the Zn-containing ones. Beads formulated as enteric-coated tablets demonstrated good colon-targeting properties, and no differences were observed in drug-release profiles from Zn- or Ca-pectinate-chitosan beads. Therefore, Ca-pectinate-chitosan beads emerged as the choice formulation, joining colon-targeting specificity with better permeation enhancer power.