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Nanomedicine. 2005 Mar;1(1):85-90.

Formation of nanoparticles of a hydrophilic drug using supercritical carbon dioxide and microencapsulation for sustained release.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama 36849-5127, USA.



Our purpose was to produce nanoparticles of a hydrophilic drug with use of supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2), encapsulate the obtained nanoparticles into polymer microparticles with use of an anhydrous method and study their sustained in vitro drug release.


The hydrophilic drug, dexamethasone phosphate, is dissolved in methanol and injected in supercritical CO2 with an ultrasonic field for enhanced molecular mixing (supercritical antisolvent technique with enhanced mass transfer [SAS-EM]). Supercritical CO2 rapidly extracts methanol leading to instantaneous precipitation of drug nanoparticles. The nanoparticles are then encapsulated in poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) polymer by use of the anhydrous solid-oil-oil-oil technique. This results in a well-dispersed encapsulation of drug nanoparticles in polymer microspheres. In vitro drug release from these microparticles is studied.


With supercritical CO2 used as an antisolvent, nanoparticles of dexamethasone phosphate were obtained in the range of 150 to 200 nm. On encapsulation in polylactide coglycolide, composite microspheres of approximately 70 microm were obtained. The in vitro drug release of these nanoparticles/microparticles composites shows sustained release of dexamethasone phosphate over a period of 700 hours with almost no initial burst release.


Nanoparticles of dexamethasone phosphate can be produced with the SAS-EM technique. When microencapsulated, these particles can provide sustained drug release without initial burst release. Because the complete process is anhydrous, it can be easily extended to produce sustained release formulations of other hydrophilic drugs.

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