Techniques for Assessing the Effects of Pharmaceutical Excipients on the Aggregation of Porcine Growth Hormone

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Three denaturing techniques have been evaluated for their ability to induce irreversible aggregation and precipitation of recombinant porcine growth hormone (pGH). The denaturing stimuli included thermal denaturation, interfacial denaturation through the introduction of a high air/water interface by vortex agitation, and a guanidine (Gdn) HC1 technique which involved rapid dilution of a partially unfolded state of pGH to nondenaturing conditions. Soluble and insoluble pGH fractions were evaluated for the presence of covalently modified species and soluble aggregates by size exclusion chromatography (SEC), sodium dodecyl sulfate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), and isoelectric focusing (IEF). In each of the three denaturation methods, precipitation was found to be irreversible, as the precipitated pellet could not be solubilized upon resuspending in buffer. The soluble pGH fractions consisted of only monomeric material and the insoluble protein pellet could be completely solubilized with Gdn HC1 or SDS. There was no evidence of detectable covalent modifications in the precipitated protein pellet following any of the three denaturation techniques. Three excipients, Tween 20, hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HPCD), and sorbitol were evaluated for their stabilizing ability using each of the three denaturation methods and the degree of stabilization was found to be dependent upon the denaturing stimulus incorporated. Tween 20 was found to be highly effective in preventing pGH precipitation using the interfacial and Gdn techniques and was moderately effective using the thermal denaturation method. Inclusion of HPCD in the sample buffer significantly reduced precipitation using the thermal and interfacial methods but was ineffective in the Gdn technique. In contrast, sorbitol was ineffective in the interfacial technique and only moderately effective at high concentrations in reducing Gdn- and thermally-induced precipitation. These studies demonstrate the need to consider the nature of the denaturing stimulus when evaluating the potential protein-stabilizing properties of different pharmaceutical excipients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)954-962
Number of pages9
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1993


  • excipient effects
  • porcine growth hormone
  • protein aggregation
  • protein stability

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