Abstract The high hygroscopicity of gentamicin (G) as raw material hampers the production of respirable particles during aerosol generation and prevents its direct use as powder for inhalation in patients suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF). Therefore, this research aimed to design a new dry powder formulation of G studying dispersibility properties of an aminoacid, l-leucine (leu), and appropriate process conditions. Spray-dried powders were characterized as to water uptake, particle size distribution, morphology and stability, in correlation with process parameters. Aerodynamic properties were analyzed both by Single Stage Glass Impinger and Andersen Cascade Impactor. Moreover, the potential cytotoxicity on bronchial epithelial cells bearing a CFTR F508/F508 mutant genotype (CuFi1) were tested. Results indicated that leu may improve the aerosol performance of G-dried powders. The maximum fine particle fraction (FPF) of about 58.3% was obtained when water/isopropyl alcohol 7:3 system and 15–20% (w/w) of leu were used, compared to a FPF value of 13.4% for neat G-dried powders. The enhancement of aerosol efficiency was credited both to the improvement of the powder flowability, caused by the dispersibility enhancer (aminoacid), and to the modification of the particle surface due to the influence of the organic co-solvent on drying process. No significant degradation of the dry powder was observed up to 6 months of storage. Moreover, particle engineering did not affect either the cell viability or cell proliferation of CuFi1 over a 24 h period.
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