Micro-Flow Imaging as a quantitative tool to assess size and agglomeration of PLGA microparticles

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The purpose of this study was to explore the potential of flow imaging microscopy to measure particle size and agglomeration of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microparticles. The particle size distribution of pharmaceutical PLGA microparticle products is routinely determined with laser diffraction. In our study, we performed a unique side-by-side comparison between MFI 5100 (flow imaging microscopy) and Mastersizer 2000 (laser diffraction) for the particle size analysis of two commercial PLGA microparticle products, i.e., Risperdal Consta and Sandostatin LAR. Both techniques gave similar results regarding the number and volume percentage of the main particle population (28–220 μm for Risperdal Consta; 16–124 μm for Sandostatin LAR). MFI additionally detected a ‘fines’ population (<28 μm for Risperdal Consta; <16 μm for Sandostatin LAR), which was overlooked by Mastersizer. Moreover, MFI was able to split the main population into ‘monospheres’ and ‘agglomerates’ based on particle morphology, and count the number of particles in each sub-population. Finally, we presented how MFI can be applied in process development of risperidone PLGA microparticles and to monitor the physical stability of Sandostatin LAR. These case studies showed that MFI provides insight into the effect of different process steps on the number, size and morphology of fines, monospheres and agglomerates as well as the extent of microparticle agglomeration after reconstitution. This can be particularly important for the suspendability, injectability and release kinetics of PLGA microparticles.

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