Microemulsion extrusion technique: a new method to produce lipid nanoparticles

Marcelo Bispo de Jesus*, Allan Radaic, Inge S. Zuhorn, Eneida de Paula

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Solid lipid nanoparticles (SLN) and nano-structured lipid carriers (NLC) have been intensively investigated for different applications, including their use as drug and gene delivery systems. Different techniques have been employed to produce lipid nanoparticles, of which high pressure homogenization is the standard technique that is adopted nowadays. Although this method has a high efficiency, does not require the use of organic solvents, and allows large-scale production, some limitations impede its application at laboratory scale: the equipment is expensive, there is a need of huge amounts of surfactants and co-surfactants during the preparation, and the operating conditions are energy intensive. Here, we present the microemulsion extrusion technique as an alternative method to prepare lipid nanoparticles. The parameters to produce lipid nanoparticles using microemulsion extrusion were established, and the lipid particles produced (SLN, NLC, and liposomes) were characterized with regard to size (from 130 to 190 nm), zeta potential, and drug (mitoxantrone) and gene (pDNA) delivery properties. In addition, the particles' in vitro co-delivery capacity (to carry mitoxantrone plus pDNA encoding the phosphatase and tensin homologue, PTEN) was tested in normal (BALB3T3 fibroblast) and cancer (PC3 prostate and MCF-7 breast) cell lines. The results show that the microemulsion extrusion technique is fast, inexpensive, reproducible, free of organic solvents, and suitable for small volume preparations of lipid nanoparticles. Its application is particularly interesting when using rare and/or costly drugs or ingredients (e. g., cationic lipids for gene delivery or labeled lipids for nanoparticle tracking/diagnosis).

Original languageEnglish
Article number1960
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 3-Sept-2013


  • Lipid nanoparticles
  • Microemulsion extrusion
  • Solid lipid nanoparticles
  • Nanostructured lipid carrier
  • Liposomes
  • SLN


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