Pickering Emulsions Enhance Oral Bioavailability of Curcumin Nanocrystals: The Effect of Oil Types

Yuze Sheng, Qin Yu, Yanping Huang, Quangang Zhu, Zhongjian Chen, Wei Wu, Tao Yi, Yi Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Nanocrystals (NCs) have the potential to enhance the oral bioavailability of Class IV drugs in the Biopharmaceutical Classification System (BCS) due to the absorption of the intact crystals. The performance is compromised by the dissolution of NCs. Drug NCs have recently been adopted as solid emulsifiers to prepare nanocrystal self-stabilized Pickering emulsions (NCSSPEs). They are advantageous in high drug loading and low side effects due to the specific drug loading mode and the absence of chemical surfactants. More importantly, NCSSPEs may further enhance the oral bioavailability of drug NCs by impeding their dissolution. This is especially true for BCS IV drugs. In this study, curcumin (CUR), a typical BCS IV drug, was adopted to prepare CUR-NCs stabilized Pickering emulsions using either indigestible (isopropyl palmitate, IPP) or digestible (soybean oil, SO) oils, i.e., IPP-PEs and SO-PEs. The optimized formulations were spheric with CUR-NCs adsorbed on the water/oil interface. The CUR concentration in the formulation reached 20 mg/mL, which was far beyond the solubility of CUR in IPP (158.06 ± 3.44 μg/g) or SO (124.19 ± 2.40 μg/g). Moreover, the Pickering emulsions enhanced the oral bioavailability of CUR-NCs, being 172.85% for IPP-PEs and 152.07% for SO-PEs. The digestibility of the oil phase affected the amounts of CUR-NCs that remained intact in lipolysis and, thus, the oral bioavailability. In conclusion, converting NCs into Pickering emulsions provides a novel strategy to enhance the oral bioavailability of CUR and BCS IV drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1341
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • BCS IV
  • Pickering emulsions
  • curcumin
  • lipolysis
  • nanocrystals
  • oral bioavailability


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