Celecoxib Encapsulation in β-Casein Micelles: Structure, Interactions, and Conformation

Tanya Turovsky, Rafail Khalfin, Shifi Kababya, Asher Schmidt, Yechezkel Barenholz, Dganit Danino*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


β-Casein is a 24 kDa natural protein that has an open conformation and almost no folded or secondary structure, and thus is classified as an intrinsically unstructured protein. At neutral pH, β-casein has an amphiphilic character. Therefore, in contrast to most unstructured proteins that remain monomeric in solution, β-casein self-assembles into well-defined core-shell micelles. We recently developed these micelles as potential carriers for oral administration of poorly water-soluble pharmaceuticals, using celecoxib as a model drug. Herein we present deep and precise insight into the physicochemical characteristics of the protein-drug formulation, both in bulk solution and in dry form, emphasizing drug conformation, packing properties and aggregation state. In addition, the formulation is extensively studied in terms of structure and morphology, protein/drug interactions and physical stability. Particularly, NMR measurements indicated strong drug-protein interactions and noncrystalline drug conformation, which is expected to improve drug solubility and bioavailability. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) were combined for nanostructural characterization, proving that drug-protein interactions lead to well-defined spheroidal micelles that become puffier and denser upon drug loading. Dynamice light scattering (DLS), turbidity measurements, and visual observations complemented the analysis for determining formulation structure, interactions, and stability. Additionally, it was shown that the loaded micelles retain their properties through freeze-drying and rehydration, providing long-term physical and chemical stability. Altogether, the formulation seems greatly promising for oral drug delivery. (Chemical Equation Presented).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7183-7192
Number of pages10
Issue number26
StatePublished - 7 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


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