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Stability and Activity of Interferon Beta to Treat Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis with Different Nebulizer Technologies

Background: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a serious lung disease characterized by lung scarring, which results in breathing difficulty. Currently, patients with IPF exhibit a poor survival rate and have access to very limited therapeutic options. Interferon beta (IFN-β) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, and it has also been shown to exhibit therapeutic potential in IPF. However, clinical use of IFN-β did not lead to improved overall survival in IPF patients in existing studies. One possibility is the limited efficiency of IFN-β delivery through intravenous or subcutaneous injection.

Materials and Methods: The aerosol particle size distribution was determined with a laser diffraction particle size analyzer to characterize the droplet size and fine particle fraction generated by three types of nebulizers: jet, ultrasonic, and mesh. A breathing simulator was used to assess the delivery efficiency of IFN-β, and the temperature in the medication reservoirs was monitored with a thermocouple during nebulization. To further evaluate the antifibrotic activity of IFN-β pre- and postnebulization, bleomycin (BLM)- or transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β)-treated human lung fibroblast (HLF) cells were used. Cell viability was measured by 3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. Transwell migration assay and Q-PCR analysis were used to evaluate cell migration and the myofibroblast differentiation ability, respectively. IFN-β protein samples were prepared using sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) sample loading buffer, and the expression of IFN-β was assessed by western blotting.

Results: Among the current drug delivery systems, aerosolized medication has shown increased efficacy of drug delivery for treating respiratory diseases when compared with parenteral drugs. It was found that neither the structural integrity nor the biological function of nebulized IFN-β was compromised by the nebulization process of the mesh nebulizer. In addition, in BLM dose-response or TGF-β-induced lung fibroblast proliferation assays, these effects could be reversed by both parenteral and inhaled IFN-β nebulized with the mesh nebulizer. Nebulized IFN-β with the mesh nebulizer also significantly inhibited the migration and myofibroblast differentiation ability of TGF-β-treated HLF cells.

Conclusions: The investigations revealed the potential efficacy of IFN-β in the treatment of IPF with the mesh nebulizer, demonstrating the higher efficiency of IFN-β delivered through the mesh nebulizer.

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