Development of a Self-Assembled Nanoparticle Formulation of Orlistat, Nano-ORL, with Increased Cytotoxicity against Human Tumor Cell Lines

Tanner K. Hill, Amanda L. Davis, Frances B. Wheeler, Sneha S. Kelkar, Erica C. Freund, W. Todd Lowther, Steven J. Kridel, Aaron M. Mohs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Fatty acid synthase (FASN), the enzyme that catalyzes de novo synthesis of fatty acids, is expressed in many cancer types. Its potential as a therapeutic target is well recognized, but inhibitors of FASN have not yet been approved for cancer therapy. Orlistat (ORL), an FDA-approved lipase inhibitor, is also an effective inhibitor of FASN. However, ORL is extremely hydrophobic and has low systemic uptake after oral administration. Thus, new strategies are required to formulate ORL for cancer treatment as a FASN inhibitor. Here, we report the development of a nanoparticle (NP) formulation of ORL using amphiphilic bioconjugates that are derived from hyaluronic acid (HA), termed Nano-ORL. The NPs were loaded with up to 20 wt % weight of ORL at greater than 95% efficiency. The direct inhibition of the human recombinant thioesterase domain of FASN by ORL extracted from Nano-ORL was similar to that of stock ORL. Nano-ORL demonstrated a similar ability to inhibit cellular FASN activity when compared to free ORL, as demonstrated by analysis of 14C-acetate incorporation into lipids. Nano-ORL treatment also disrupted mitochondrial function similarly to ORL by reducing adenosine triphosphate turnover in MDA-MB-231 and LNCaP cells. Nano-ORL demonstrated increased potency compared to ORL toward prostate and breast cancer cells. Nano-ORL decreased viability of human prostate and breast cancer cell lines to 55 and 57%, respectively, while free ORL decreased viability to 71 and 79% in the same cell lines. Moreover, Nano-ORL retained cytotoxic activity after a 24 h preincubation in aqueous conditions. Preincubation of ORL dramatically reduced the efficacy of ORL as indicated by high cell viability (>85%) in both breast and prostate cell lines. These data demonstrate that NP formulation of ORL using HA-derived polymers retains similar levels of FASN, lipid synthesis, and ATP turnover inhibition while significantly improving the cytotoxic activity against cancer cell lines. (Chemical Equation Presented).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)720-728
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 7 2016


  • Orlistat
  • fatty acid synthase
  • hyaluronic acid
  • nanoparticle
  • self-assembly
  • tetrahydrolipstatin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery


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