Effects of HPMC substituent pattern on water up-take, polymer and drug release: An experimental and modelling study

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the hydration behavior of two matrix formulations containing the cellulose derivative hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC). The two HPMC batches investigated had different substitution pattern along the backbone; the first one is referred to as heterogeneous and the second as homogenous. The release of both the drug molecule theophylline and the polymer was determined. Additionally, the water concentrations at different positions in the swollen gel layers were determined by Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The experimental data was compared to predicted values obtained by the extension of a mechanistic Fickian based model. The hydration of tablets containing the more homogenous HPMC batch showed a gradual water concentration gradient in the gel layer and could be well predicted. The hydration process for the more heterogeneous batch showed a very abrupt step change in the water concentration in the gel layer and could not be well predicted. Based on the comparison between the experimental and predicted data this study suggests, for the first time, that formulations with HPMC of different heterogeneities form gels in different ways. The homogeneous HPMC batch exhibits a water sorption behavior ascribable to a Fick's law for the diffusion process whereas the more heterogeneous HPMC batches does not. This conclusion is important in the future development of simulation models and in the understanding of drug release mechanism from hydrophilic matrices.

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