Despite extensive efforts to develop delivery systems for oral administration, subcutaneous (s.c.) injection remains the most common way to administer peptide drugs. To limit the number of frequent injections, sustained release systems that are easy to produce, suitable for various drugs, safe and biodegradable are urgently needed. Porous silicon (PSi) has been recognized to be one of the most promising materials for s.c. peptide delivery, but its biodegradation in s.c. tissue has not been studied in vivo, despite extensive in vitro research.
In the present study, differently modified PSi microparticles were injected s.c. in mice, after which the morphology of the particles was thoroughly studied with transmission electron microscopy, micro-computed tomography and X-ray diffraction. Furthermore, histopathology of the s.c. tissue was analyzed to evaluate biocompatibility. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first systematic study which reveals the degradation behavior of various PSi materials in vivo.
The PSi surface chemistry significantly affected the biodegradation rate of the s.c. injected microparticles. The most hydrophobic PSi microparticles with hydrocarbonized surface showed the lowest biodegradation rate while the hydrophilic microparticles, with oxide surface, degraded the fastest. The results from different empirical methods complemented each other to deduce the biodegradation mechanism of the inorganic delivery system, providing useful information for future development of s.c. carriers.