Phase separation ofin situforming poly (lactide-co-glycolide acid) implants investigated using a hydrogel-based subcutaneous tissue surrogate and UV–vis imaging

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Phase separation of in situ forming poly (lactide-co-glycolide acid) (PLGA) implants with agarose hydrogels as the provider of nonsolvent (water) mimicking subcutaneous tissue was investigated using a novel UV–vis imaging-based analytical platform. In situ forming implants of PLGA-1-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone and PLGA-triacetin representing fast and slow phase separating systems, respectively, were evaluated using this platform. Upon contact with the agarose hydrogel, the phase separation of the systems was followed by the study of changes in light transmission and absorbance as a function of time and position. For the PLGA-1-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone system, the rate of spatial phase separation was determined and found to decrease with increasing the PLGA concentration from 20% to 40% (w/w). Hydrogels with different agarose concentrations (1% and 10% (w/v)) were prepared for providing the nonsolvent, water, to the in situ forming PLGA implants simulating the injection site environment. The resulting implant morphology depended on the stiffness of hydrogel matrix, indicating that the matrix in which implants are formed is of importance. Overall, the work showed that the UV–vis imaging-based platform with an agarose hydrogel mimicking the subcutaneous tissue holds potential in providing bio-relevant and mechanistic information on the phase separation processes of in situ forming implants.

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