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J Control Release. 2002 Aug 21;82(2-3):289-307.

Characterization of the initial burst release of a model peptide from poly(D,L-lactide-co-glycolide) microspheres.

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  • 1Pharmaceutical Analytical and Development Department, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., 59 Route 10, East Hanover, NJ 07936, USA.


In order to study the mechanism of initial burst release from drug-loaded poly(D,L-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) microspheres, a model peptide, octreotide acetate, was encapsulated in PLGA 50/50 (M(w) approximately 50,000) microspheres using a double emulsion-solvent evaporation method. A simple and accurate continuous monitoring system was developed to obtain a detailed release profile. After different incubation times in the release medium, the morphology and permeability of the microspheres were examined using scanning electron and confocal microscopy (after immersing the microspheres in a fluorescent dye solution for 30 min), respectively. Both the external and internal morphology of the microspheres changed substantially during release of >50% of the peptide over the first 24 h into an acetate buffer, pH 4 at 37 degrees C. After 5 h, a 1-3 microm "skin" layer with decreased porosity was observed forming around the microsphere surface. The density of the "skin" appeared to increase after 24 h with negligible surface pores present, suggesting the formation of a diffusion barrier. Similar morphological changes also occurred at pH 7.4, but more slowly. Correlated with these results, the confocal microscopy studies (at pH 4) showed that the amount of dye penetrated inside the microspheres sharply decreased with time. In summary, over the first 24 h of drug release, a non-porous film forms spontaneously at the surface of octreotide acetate-loaded PLGA microspheres in place of an initially porous surface. These rapid alterations in polymer morphology are correlated with a sharp decline in permeability and the cessation of the initial burst.

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