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© 2019, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers 2019. Purpose: Cannabidiol (CBD), active component of plant Cannabis sativa, has anti-inflammatory properties that could potentially help treat diabetic retinopathy-induced pain and inflammation. However, CBD is a lipophilic molecule making its topical delivery to back of the eye challenging. This study aims at improving ocular penetration of CBD by means of analog derivatization. Methods: Analogs were designed using various ligands, such as amino acids (AAs) and dicarboxylic acids (DCAs) and their combinations. Select analogs were screened in vitro with respect to their stability in ocular tissue homogenates. Based on in vitro stability, analogs were selected for in rabbits testing. Formulations containing these compounds were tested in rabbits to determine ocular tissue disposition of CBD and the analogs after topical application. The rabbits were sacrificed 90 min post-topical application and the aqueous humor, vitreous humor (VH), iris-ciliary bodies (IC), and retina-choroid (RC) were analyzed for CBD and analog content. Results: CBD-divalinate-dihemisuccinate (CBD-Di-VHS) and CBD-divalinate (CBD-Di-Val) were stable in the ocular tissue homogenates. Post-topical application, CBD and CBD-Di-Val analog levels were detected only in RC. Dosing of CBD-Di-VHS nanoemulsion generated analog levels both in the VH and in the RC, respectively. In contrast, post dosing of CBD-monovalinate-monohemisuccinate (CBD-Mono-VHS), both the analog and CBD were detected in the IC and RC. Conclusion: The analogs demonstrated superior penetration into ocular tissues in comparison with CBD. CBD-Di-VHS and CBD-Mono-VHS exhibited better permeation properties, possibly due to improved stability and physicochemical characteristics imparted by AA and DCA combination derivatives.

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