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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The acidic microclimate in poly(lactide-co-glycolide) microspheres stabilizes camptothecins.

PURPOSE: The camptothecin (CPT) analogue, 10-hydroxycamptothecin (10-HCPT) has been shown previously to remain in its acid-stable (and active) lactone form when encapsulated in poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) microspheres (1). The purpose of this study was to determine the principal mechanism(s) of 10-HCPT stabilization. METHODS: CPTs were encapsulated in PLGA 50:50 microspheres by standard solvent evaporation techniques. Microspheres were eroded in pH 7.4 buffer at 37 degrees C. The ratio of encapsulated lactone to carboxylate was determined by HPLC as a function of time, initial form of drug encapsulated, fraction of co-encapsulated Mg(OH)2, CPT lipophilicity, and drug loading. Two techniques were developed to assess the microclimate pH, including: i) measurement of H+ content of the dissolved microspheres in an 80:20 acetonitrile/H2O mixture and ii) confocal microscopy of an encapsulated pH-sensitive dye, fluorescein. RESULTS: The encapsulated carboxylate converted rapidly to the lactone after exposure to the release media, indicating the lactone is favored at equilibrium in the microspheres. Upon co-encapsulation of Mg(OH)2, the trend was reversed, i.e., the lactone rapidly converted to the carboxylate form. Measurement of -log(hydronium ion activity) (paH*) of dissolved microspheres with pH-electrode and pH mapping with fluorescein revealed the presence of an acidic microclimate. From the measurements of H+ and water contents of particles hydrated for 3 days, a microclimate pH was estimated to be in the neighborhood of 1. 8. The co-encapsulation of Mg(OH)2 could both increase the paH* reading and neutralize pH in various regions of the microsphere interior. Varying the drug lipophilicity and loading revealed that the precipitation of the lactone could also stabilize CPT. CONCLUSIONS: PLGA microspheres prepared by the standard solvent evaporation techniques develop an acidic microclimate that stabilizes the lactone form of CPTs. This microclimate may be neutralized by co-encapsulating a base such as Mg(OH)2, as suggested by previous work with poly(ortho esters) (2).[1]


  1. The acidic microclimate in poly(lactide-co-glycolide) microspheres stabilizes camptothecins. Shenderova, A., Burke, T.G., Schwendeman, S.P. Pharm. Res. (1999) [Pubmed]
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