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A significant proportion of urinary tract infection (UTI) patients experience recurrent episodes, due to deep tissue infection and treatment-resistant bacterial reservoirs. Direct bladder instillation of antibiotics has proved disappointing in treating UTI, likely due to the failure of infused antibiotics to penetrate the bladder epithelium and accumulate to high enough levels to kill intracellular bacteria. This work investigates the use of nitrofurantoin loaded poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) particles to improve delivery to intracellular targets for the treatment of chronic UTI. Using electrohydrodynamic atomisation, we produced particles with an average diameter of 2.8 μm. In broth culture experiments, the biodegradable particles were effective against a number of UTI-relevant bacterial strains. Dye-loaded particles demonstrated that intracellular delivery was achieved in all cells in 2D cultures of a human bladder epithelial progenitor cell line in a dose-dependent manner, achieving far higher efficiency and concentration than equivalent quantities of free drug. Time-lapse video microscopy confirmed that delivery occurred within 30 min of administration, to 100% of cells. Moreover, the particles were able to deliver the drug to cells through multiple layers of a 3D human bladder organoid model causing minimal cell toxicity, displaying superior killing of bacterial reservoirs harboured within bladder cells compared with unencapsulated drug. The particles were also able to kill bacterial biofilms more effectively than the free drug. These results illustrate the potential for using antibiotic-loaded microparticles to effectively treat chronic UTIs. Such a delivery method could be extrapolated to other clinical indications where robust intracellular delivery is required, such as oncology and gene therapy.

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3D organoid, Antimicrobial resistance, Electrospray, Intracellular drug delivery, Urinary tract infection