This study evaluated cellular uptake of polymeric nanoparticles by using Caco-2 cells, a human colon adenocarcinoma cell line, as an in vitro model with the aim to apply nanoparticles of biodegradable polymers for oral chemotherapy. The feasibility was demonstrated by showing the localization and quantification of the cell uptake of fluorescent polystyrene nanoparticles of standard size and poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanoparticles coated with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) or vitamin E TPGS. Coumarin-6 loaded PLGA nanoparticles were prepared by a modified solvent extraction/evaporation method and characterized by laser light scattering for size and size distribution, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) for surface morphology, zeta-potential for surface charge, and spectrofluorometry for fluorescent molecule release from the nanoparticles. The effects of particle size and particle surface coating on the cellular uptake of the nanoparticles were quantified by spectrofluorometric measurement. Cellular uptake of vitamin E TPGS-coated PLGA nanoparticles showed 1.4 folds higher than that of PVA-coated PLGA nanoparticles and 4-6 folds higher than that of nude polystyrene nanoparticles. Images of confocal laser scanning microscopy, cryo-SEM and transmission electron microscopy clearly evidenced the internalization of nanoparticles by the Caco-2 cells, showing that surface modification of PLGA nanoparticles with vitamin E TPGS notably improved the cellular uptake. It is highly feasible for nanoparticles of biodegradable polymers to be applied to promote oral chemotherapy. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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