Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Ragusa JA. Low Molecular Weight Glucosamine/L-lactide Copolymers as Potential Carriers for the Development of a Sustained Rifampicin Release System: Mycobacterium smegmatis as a Tuberculosis Model. University of Nebraska - Lincoln, 2014.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Gustavo Larsen. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Jorge Alejandro Ragusa


Tuberculosis, a highly contagious disease, ranks as the second leading cause of death from an infectious disease, and remains a major global health problem. In 2013, 9 million new cases were diagnosed and 1.5 million people died worldwide from tuberculosis. This dissertation aims at developing a new, ultrafine particle-based efficient antibiotic delivery system for the treatment of tuberculosis. The carrier material to make the rifampicin (RIF)-loaded particles is a low molecular weight star-shaped polymer produced from glucosamine (molecular core building unit) and L-lactide (GluN-LLA). Stable particles with a very high 50% drug loading capacity were made via electrohydrodynamic atomization. Prolonged release (>14 days) of RIF from these particles is demonstrated. Drug release data fits the Korsmeyer-Peppas equation, which suggests the occurrence of a modified diffusion-controlled RIF release mechanism, and is also supported by differential scanning calorimetry and drug leaching tests. Cytotoxicity tests on Mycobacterium smegmatis showed that antibiotic-free GluN-LLA and polylactides (PLA) (reference material) particles did not show any significant anti-bacterial activity. The minimum inhibitory concentration and minimum bactericidal concentration values obtained for RIF-loaded particles showed 2- to 4-fold improvements in the anti-bacterial activity relative to the free drug. Cytotoxicity tests on macrophages indicated an increment in cell death as particle dose increased, but was not significantly affected by material type or particle size. Confocal microscopy was used to track internalization and localization of particles in the macrophages. GluN-LLA particles led to higher uptakes than the PLA particles. In addition, after phagocytosis, the GluN-LLA particles stayed in the cytoplasm and the particles showed a favorable long term drug release effect in killing intracellular bacteria compared to free RIF. The studies presented and discussed in this dissertation suggest that these drug carrier materials are potentially very attractive candidates for the development of high-payload, sustained-release antibiotic/resorbable polymer particle systems for treating bacterial lung infections.

Advisor: Gustavo Larsen