Characterization and comparison of leuprolide degradation profiles in water and dimethyl sulfoxide

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The effect of solvent on the rate of leuprolide degradation and on the structure of the degradation products was explored. Leuprolide solutions (370 mg/mL) were prepared in water and dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) for delivery in DUROS™ osmotic implants. Both solvent systems demonstrated better than 90% stability after 1 year at 37°C, where the DMSO formulation afforded better stability than the aqueous formulation and was used in subsequent clinical trials. The rate of leuprolide degradation in DMSO was also observed to accelerate with increasing moisture content, indicating that the aprotic solvent minimized chemical degradation. Interestingly, leuprolide degradation products varied with formulation vehicle. The proportions of leuprolide degradation products observed to form in water and DMSO at 37°C were hydrolysis > aggregation > isomerization > oxidation and aggregation > oxidation > hydrolysis > isomerization, respectively. Specifically, more N-terminal hydrolysis and acetylation were observed under aqueous conditions, and increased Trp oxidation and Ser β-elimination were seen under non-aqueous conditions. Furthermore, the major chemical degradation pathway changed with temperature in the DMSO formulation (decreasing oxidation with increasing temperature), but not in the aqueous formulation.

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