Molecular Pharmaceutics, 2018, vol 15, 2, pp. 629-641
The microstructure of pharmaceutical semicrystalline solid dispersions has attracted extensive attention due to its complexity that might result in the diversity in physical stability, dissolution behavior, and pharmaceutical performance of the systems. Numerous factors have been reported that dictate the microstructure of semicrystalline dispersions. Nevertheless, the importance of the complicated conformation of the polymer has never been elucidated. In this study, we investigate the microstructure of dispersions of polyethylene glycol and active pharmaceutical ingredients by small-angle X-ray scattering and high performance differential scanning calorimetry. Polyethylene glycol with molecular weight of 2000 g/mol (PEG2000) and 6000 g/mol (PEG6000) exhibited remarkable discrepancy in the lamellar periodicity in dispersions with APIs which was attributed to the differences in their folding behavior. The long period of PEG2000 always decreased upon aging-induced exclusion of APIs from the interlamellar region of extended chain crystals whereas the periodicity of PEG6000 may decrease or increase during storage as a consequence of the competition between the drug segregation and the lamellar thickening from nonintegral-folded into integral-folded chain crystals. These processes were in turn significantly influenced by the crystallization tendency of the pharmaceutical compounds, drug–polymer interactions, as well as the dispersion composition and crystallization temperature. This study highlights the significance of the polymer conformation on the microstructure of semicrystalline systems that is critical for the preparation of solid dispersions with consistent and reproducible quality.