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The apigenin-phospholipid phytosome (APLC) was developed to improve the aqueous solubility, dissolution, in vivo bioavailability, and antioxidant activity of apigenin. The APLC synthesis was guided by a full factorial design strategy, incorporating specific formulation and process variables to deliver an optimized product. The design-optimized formulation was assayed for aqueous solubility, in vitro dissolution, pharmacokinetics, and antioxidant activity. The pharmacological evaluation was carried out by assessing its effects on carbon tetrachloride-induced elevation of liver function marker enzymes in a rat model. The antioxidant activity was assessed by studying its effects on the liver antioxidant marker enzymes. The developed model was validated using the design-optimized levels of formulation and process variables. The physical-chemical characterization confirmed the formation of phytosomes. The optimized formulation demonstrated over 36-fold higher aqueous solubility of apigenin, compared to that of pure apigenin. The formulation also exhibited a significantly higher rate and extent of apigenin release in dissolution studies. The pharmacokinetic analysis revealed a significant enhancement in the oral bioavailability of apigenin from the prepared formulation, compared to pure apigenin. The liver function tests indicated that the prepared phytosome showed a significantly improved restoration of all carbon tetrachloride-elevated rat liver function marker enzymes. The prepared formulation also exhibited antioxidant potential by significantly increasing the levels of glutathione, superoxide dismutase, catalase, and decreasing the levels of lipid peroxidase. The study shows that phospholipid-based phytosome is a promising and viable strategy for improving the delivery of apigenin and similar phytoconstituents with low aqueous solubility.




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