• chitosan;
  • electrostatic interaction;
  • modified lecithin;
  • nanoparticles;
  • self-assembly

ABSTRACT:  The formation of biocompatible nanoparticles via the self-assembly of chitosan (CHI) and modified lecithin (ML) was studied. Stable nanoparticles in the size range of 123 to 350 nm were formed at over a wide molar mixing ratios of CHI/ML solutions (amino group/phosphate group) (NH3+/PO3) and total polyelectrolyte (PE) concentrations (0.1 to 1 wt%) except at intermediate molar ratios when the surface charge was close to neutrality. Zeta-potentials of the nanoparticles were found to be independent of the total PE concentrations. Nanoparticles exhibited excellent stability at over an extended pH (pHs 3 to 6) and ionic strength range (≤ 500 mM NaCl concentration). The particle size and zeta-potential of the nanoparticles increased with the molecular weight of CHI. Transmission electron microscopy suggested that nanoparticles were generally spherical in shape with CHI constituting the exterior of its surface at high molar mixing ratios. Dextran-fluorescein isothiocyanate, bovine serum albumin, and Coomassie brilliant blue as models of nonionic, positively and negatively charged compounds were encapsulated within the nanoparticles at between 8.7% and 62.7% efficiency. The ability of the nanoparticle suspensions to be converted to lyophilized powder or concentrated suspension was also demonstrated.