Continuous Microfluidic Production of Citrem-Phosphatidylcholine Nano-Self-Assemblies for Thymoquinone Delivery

Esra Ilhan-Aysigi, Aghiad Ghazal, Barbara Sartori, Maria Dimaki, Winnie Edith Svendsen, Ozlem Yesil-Celiktas, Anan Yaghmur*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lamellar and non‐lamellar liquid crystalline nanodispersions, including liposomes, cubo-somes, and hexosomes are attractive platforms for drug delivery, bio‐imaging, and related pharmaceutical applications. As compared to liposomes, there is a modest number of reports on the continuous production of cubosomes and hexosomes. Using a binary lipid mixture of citrem and soy phosphatidylcholine (SPC), we describe the continuous production of nanocarriers for delivering thymoquinone (TQ, a substance with various therapeutic potentials) by employing a commercial microfluidic hydrodynamic flow‐focusing chip. In this study, nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) and synchrotron small‐angle X‐ray scattering (SAXS) were employed to characterize TQ‐free and TQ‐loaded citrem/SPC nanodispersions. Microfluidic synthesis led to formation of TQ‐free and TQ-loaded nanoparticles with mean sizes around 115 and 124 nm, and NTA findings indicated comparable nanoparticle size distributions in these nanodispersions. Despite the attractiveness of the mi-crofluidic chip for continuous production of citrem/SPC nano‐self‐assemblies, it was not efficient as comparable mean nanoparticle sizes were obtained on employing a batch (discontinuous) method based on low‐energy emulsification method. SAXS results indicated the formation of a biphasic feature of swollen lamellar (Lα) phase in coexistence with an inverse bicontinuous cubic Pn3m phase in all continuously produced TQ‐free and TQ‐loaded nanodispersions. Further, a set of SAXS experiments were conducted on samples prepared using the batch method for gaining further insight into the effects of ethanol and TQ concentration on the structural features of citrem/SPC nano‐self-assemblies. We discuss these effects and comment on the need to introduce efficient microfluidic platforms for producing nanocarriers for delivering TQ and other therapeutic agents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1510
Number of pages16
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2021


  • thymoquinone
  • inverse bicontinuous cubic Pn3m phase
  • microfluidics
  • nanoparticle tracking analysis
  • synchrotron small-angle scattering
  • Synchrotron small‐angle scattering
  • Inverse bicontinuous cubic Pn3m phase
  • Thymoquinone
  • Nanoparticle tracking analysis
  • Microfluidics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)

Fields of Expertise

  • Advanced Materials Science

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