The Development of Quasi-isothermal Calorimetry for the Measurement of Drug-Polymer Miscibility and Crystallization Kinetics: Olanzapine-Loaded PLGA Microparticles

Sean Askin, Min Zhao, Andrea D Gonçalves, Simon Gaisford, Duncan Q M Craig

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8 Citations (Scopus)
284 Downloads (Pure)


The assessment of drug-polymer equilibrium solubility is of critical importance for predicting suitable loading and physical stability of solid dispersion formulations. However, quantitative measurement of this parameter is nontrivial due to the difficulties associated with ascertaining equilibrium values in systems that are prone to supersaturation and are simultaneously highly viscous, thereby slowing the equilibration process considerably; no standard methodology has yet been agreed for such measurements. In this study, we propose a new approach involving quasi-isothermal modulated temperature DSC (QiMTDSC), whereby unsaturated and supersaturated samples are held at defined temperatures and subject to a sinusoidal heating signal at a zero underpinning heating rate, thereby allowing the heat capacity of the sample to be measured as a function of time and temperature. We are not only able to ascertain whether equilibrium has been reached by monitoring the time-dependent heat capacity signal, but we can also measure solubility as a function of temperature via the absolute heat capacity values of the components. We are also able to measure the kinetics of recrystallization from the supersaturated systems. Dispersions of olanzapine in PLGA at concentrations up to 50% w/w, prepared by spray drying, were prepared and characterized using conventional and QiMTDSC as well as hot stage microscopy. The new QiMTDSC protocol was successfully able to determine olanzapine solubility in PLGA at 90 °C to be 23.1 ± 6.1% w/w, which was comparable to the values calculated using other established methods at this temperature, while a temperature/solubility profile was obtained using the method at a range of temperatures. Drug crystallization kinetics from the solid dispersions could also be modeled directly from the QiMTDSC data using the Avrami approach, thereby allowing the effect of drug loading on the rate of crystallization and the effective completion of crystallization to be investigated. Overall, an alternative protocol for measuring drug-polymer solubility has been developed and validated via comparison to established methods, the approach allowing solubility as a function of temperature, identification of equilibrium following demixing, and kinetic analysis of crystallization to be performed within one set of experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3332-3342
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number8
Early online date22 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 06 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


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