Synovial inflammation is an important characteristic of arthritic disorders like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Orally administered non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as celecoxib are among the most widely prescribed drugs to manage these debilitating diseases. Intra-articular delivery in biodegradable in situ forming hydrogels overcomes adverse systemic effects and prolongs drug retention in the joint.
In this study two formulations of celecoxib (40 mg/g and 120 mg/g) in a propyl-capped PCLA-PEG-PCLA triblock copolymer were sequentially evaluated in a multiple LPS challenge equine synovitis model. Intra-articular release and systemic exposure to celecoxib and local changes at joint level were evaluated longitudinally.
A single intra-articular injection of the high dose (HCLB)-gel or low dose (LCLB)-gel showed a sustained and controlled intra-articular release in both inflamed and healthy joints together with very low systemic exposure. Synovitis and lameness were moderate respectively very mild in this model due to the low concentration LPS (0.25 ng/joint). Both celecoxib formulations had a mild, transient effect on inflammatory and structural synovial fluid biomarkers but these returned to baseline within one week of administration. The HCLB-gel showed a significant inhibition in peak white blood cell concentration at 8 h after LPS induction.
Elevated levels of celecoxib were observed in the joint for up to 30 days but no overall anti-inflammatory effects could be observed, which was thought to be due to the moderate synovitis. As there were no long-term adverse effects, sustained intra-articular release of celecoxib from in situ forming hydrogels should be evaluated further for its effects on longer-term relief of inflammatory joint pain in humans and animals.