Evaluation of the structural determinants of polymeric precipitation inhibitors using solvent shift methods and principle component analysis

Dallas Warren, Christel A S Bergstrom, Hassan Benameur, Christopher John Porter, Colin William Pouton

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49 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of polymers within solid dose forms, such as solid dispersions, or liquid or semisolid formulations, such as lipid-based formulations, can promote the maintenance of drug supersaturation after dissolution or dispersion/digestion of the vehicle in the gastrointestinal tract. Transiently stable supersaturation delays precipitation, increases thermodynamic activity, and may enhance bioavailability and reduce variability in exposure. In the current study a diverse range of 42 different classes of polymers, with a total of 78 polymers across all classes, grades, and molecular weights were examined, to varying degrees, as potential polymeric precipitation inhibitors (PPIs) using a solvent shift method to initiate supersaturation. To provide a deeper understanding of the molecular determinants of polymer utility the data were also analyzed, along with a range of physicochemical descriptors of the polymers employed, using principle component analysis (PCA). Polymers were selectively tested for their ability to stabilize supersaturation for nine poorly water-soluble model drugs, representing a range of nonelectrolytes, weak acids, and weak bases. In general, the cellulose-based polymers (and in particular hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose, HPMC, and its derivatives) provided robust precipitation inhibition across most of the drugs tested. Subsequent PCA indicate that there is consistent PPI behavior of a Oven polymer for a given drug type, with dear clustering of the performance of polymers with each of the nonelectrolytes, weak bases, and weak acids. However, there are some exceptions to this, with some specific drug type polymer interactions also occurring Polymers containing primary amine functional groups should be avoided as they are prone to enhancing precipitation rates. An inverse relationship was also documented for the number of amide, carboxylic acid, and hydroxyl functional groups; therefore for general good PPI performance the number of these contained within the polymer should be minimized. Molecular weight is a poor predictor of performance, having only a minor influence, and in some cases a higher molecular weight enhances the precipitation process. The importance of ionic interactions to the ability of a PPI to stabilize the supersaturated state was demonstrated by the advantage of choosing a polymer with an opposite charge with respect to the drug. Additionally, when the polymer charge is the same as the supersaturated drug, precipitation is likely to be enhanced. A PCA model based on polymer molecular properties is presented, which has a central oval region where the polymer will general perform well across all three drug types. If the polymer is located outside of this region, then they either show compound-specific inhibition or enhance precipitation. Incomplete separation of the PPI performance based on the molecular properties on the polymers indicates that there are some further molecular properties that might improve the correlation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2823 - 2848
Number of pages26
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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