Development and characterization of a dry reservoir-hydrogel-forming microneedles composite for minimally invasive delivery of cefazolin

Akmal Hidayat Bin Sabri, Qonita Kurnia Anjani, Emilia Utomo, Anastasia Ripolin, Ryan F Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cefazolin (CFZ) is one of the most extensively used cephalosporins. This antibiotic exerts its bactericidal activity by interfering with bacterial cell wall formation, leading to bacteriolysis. CFZ is highly polar, resulting in the drug having poor oral bioavailability. Accordingly, the antibiotic is administered via intramuscular or intravenous injections, which are both painful and invasive. Due to these limitations, there is an impetus to explore alternative drug delivery platforms which offer a minimally invasive approach to delivery CFZ into and across the skin. The current work presents the development of a composite pharmaceutical system composed of hydrogel-forming microneedles (MNs) in tandem with CFZ dry reservoirs. The hydrogel system was fabricated from Gantrez® S-97 and Carbopol® 974P NF crosslinked with PEG 10,000. Swelling kinetic studies showed that the hydrogel system developed was capable of achieving 4000% swelling in PBS pH 7.4. In addition, results from a solute diffusion study showed that CFZ was able to achieve ≈100% cumulative permeation across the swollen hydrogel film. When formulated into MNs, the hydrogel system was capable of breaching the stratum corneum, resulting in intradermal insertion of the hydrogel forming MNs into ex vivo neonatal porcine skin, as evidenced from optical coherence tomography. In addition, two different CFZ loaded dry reservoirs consisting of directly compressed tablets (DCT) and lyophilised (LYO) wafers were formulated and characterised. These dry reservoir systems showed fast dissolution, dissolving in phosphate buffer saline pH 7.4 in less than one minute. In vitro permeation studies, using full thickness ex vivo neonatal porcine skin were conducted. HPLC analysis demonstrated the dry reservoir combination consisting of DCT with hydrogel-forming MNs was capable of achieving up to 80 µg CFZ delivery into the epidermis within 2 h of application. In addition, DCT reservoir coupled with hydrogel-forming MNs were able to deliver CFZ up to 1.8 mg into and across the skin at 24 h. Should this system be translated into clinical practice, it may provide a minimally invasive strategy to administer CFZ for the treatment of infections such as septic arthritis, osteomyelitis and cellulitis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number121593
JournalInternational journal of pharmaceutics
Early online date16 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 05 Apr 2022


  • Cephalosporin
  • Cefazolin
  • Microneedles
  • Hydrogel
  • Antibiotic


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