A comparison between spray drying and spray freeze drying for dry powder inhaler formulation of drug-loaded lipid–polymer hybrid nanoparticles

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Lipid–polymer hybrid nanoparticles – polymeric nanoparticles enveloped by lipid layers – have emerged as a potent therapeutic nano-carrier alternative to liposomes and polymeric nanoparticles. Herein we perform comparative studies of employing spray drying (SD) and spray freeze drying (SFD) to produce inhalable dry-powder form of drug-loaded lipid–polymer hybrid nanoparticles. Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), lecithin, and levofloxacin are employed as the polymer, lipid, and drug models, respectively. The hybrid nanoparticles are transformed into micro-scale nanoparticle aggregates (or nano-aggregates) via SD and SFD, where the effects of (1) different excipients (i.e. mannitol, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), and leucine), and (2) nanoparticle to excipient ratio on nano-aggregate characteristics (e.g. size, flowability, aqueous reconstitution, aerosolization efficiency) are examined. In both methods, PVA is found more effective than mannitol for aqueous reconstitution, whereas hydrophobic leucineis needed to achieve effective aerosolization as it reduces nano-aggregate agglomeration. Using PVA, both methods are equally capable of producing nano-aggregates having size, density, flowability, yield and reconstitutibility in the range ideal for inhaled delivery. Nevertheless, nano-aggregates produced by SFD are superior to SD in terms of their aerosolization efficiency manifested in the higher emitted dose and fine particle fraction with lower mass median aerodynamic diameter.

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