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PLoS One. 2016 Aug 1;11(8):e0160260. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160260. eCollection 2016.

A Three-Pulse Release Tablet for Amoxicillin: Preparation, Pharmacokinetic Study and Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Modeling.

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National Pharmaceutical Engineering Research Center, China State Institute of Pharmaceutical Industry, Shanghai, China.
Camelot Academy, Durham, the United States of America.
Department of Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.



Amoxicillin is a commonly used antibiotic which has a short half-life in human. The frequent administration of amoxicillin is often required to keep the plasma drug level in an effective range. The short dosing interval of amoxicillin could also cause some side effects and drug resistance, and impair its therapeutic efficacy and patients' compliance. Therefore, a three-pulse release tablet of amoxicillin is desired to generate sustained release in vivo, and thus to avoid the above mentioned disadvantages.


The pulsatile release tablet consists of three pulsatile components: one immediate-release granule and two delayed release pellets, all containing amoxicillin. The preparation of a pulsatile release tablet of amoxicillin mainly includes wet granulation craft, extrusion/spheronization craft, pellet coating craft, mixing craft, tablet compression craft and film coating craft. Box-Behnken design, Scanning Electron Microscope and in vitro drug release test were used to help the optimization of formulations. A crossover pharmacokinetic study was performed to compare the pharmacokinetic profile of our in-house pulsatile tablet with that of commercial immediate release tablet. The pharmacokinetic profile of this pulse formulation was simulated by physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model with the help of Simcyp®.


Single factor experiments identify four important factors of the formulation, namely, coating weight of Eudragit L30 D-55 (X1), coating weight of AQOAT AS-HF (X2), the extrusion screen aperture (X3) and compression forces (X4). The interrelations of the four factors were uncovered by a Box-Behnken design to help to determine the optimal formulation. The immediate-release granule, two delayed release pellets, together with other excipients, namely, Avicel PH 102, colloidal silicon dioxide, polyplasdone and magnesium stearate were mixed, and compressed into tablets, which was subsequently coated with Opadry® film to produce pulsatile tablet of amoxicillin. In vitro release study firstly indicated a three-pulse release profile of the tablet. Later the pulse tablet was found to generate the sustained release of amoxicillin in beagle dogs. Furthermore, the Simcyp® software was used to simulate the in vivo concentration time curve model of the three-pulse release tablet for amoxicillin in both human and beagle dog. The prediction by PBPK model nicely fitted the observation in human and beagle dog.


This study has demonstrated the interrelation of factors affecting the pulsatile formulation of amoxicillin using a Box-Behnken design. The three-pulse release tablets of amoxicillin were proven to generate pulsatile release in vitro and sustained release in vivo. This formulation was also found to extend the effective plasma concentration in human compared to the tablet of immediate release based on the simulation data by PBPK modeling. This study provides an example of using PBPK to guide the development of pulsatile dosage forms.

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