High spatial resolution ToF-SIMS imaging and image analysis strategies to monitor and quantify early phase separation in amorphous solid dispersions

Paladino, Eleonora and Doerr, Frederik J.S. and Bordos, Ecaterina and Onyemelukwe, Iyke I. and Lamprou, Dimitrios A. and Florence, Alastair J. and Gilmore, Ian S. and Halbert, Gavin W. (2022) High spatial resolution ToF-SIMS imaging and image analysis strategies to monitor and quantify early phase separation in amorphous solid dispersions. International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 628. 122191. ISSN 0378-5173 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpharm.2022.122191)

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Amorphous solid dispersions (ASDs) are formulations with enhanced drug solubility and dissolution rate compared to their crystalline counterparts, however, they can be inherently thermodynamically unstable. This can lead to amorphous phase separation and drug re-crystallisation, phenomena that are typically faster and more dominant at the product's surfaces. This study investigates the use of high-resolution time of flight-secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) imaging as a surface analysis technique combined with image-analysis for the early detection, monitoring and quantification of surface amorphous phase separation in ASDs. Its capabilities are demonstrated for two pharmaceutically relevant ASD systems with distinct re-crystallisation behaviours, prepared using hot melt extrusion (HME) followed by pelletisation or grinding: (1) paracetamol-hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (PCM-HPMC) pellets with drug loadings of 10%–50% w/w and (2) indomethacin-polyvinylpyrrolidone (IND-PVP) ground material with drug loadings of 20%–85% w/w. PCM-HPMC pellets showed intense phase separation, reaching 100% PCM surface coverage within 1–5 months. In direct comparison, IND-PVP HME ground material was more stable with only a moderate formation of isolated IND-rich clusters. Image analysis allowed the reliable detection and quantification of local drug-rich clusters. An Avrami model was applied to determine and compare phase separation kinetics. The combination of chemical sensitivity and high spatial resolution afforded by SIMS was crucial to enable the study of early phase separation and re-crystallisation at the surface. Compared with traditional methods used to detect crystalline material, such as XRPD, we show that ToF-SIMS enabled detection of surface physical instability already at early stages of drug cluster formation in the first days of storage.


Paladino, Eleonora ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8324-4825, Doerr, Frederik J.S. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5245-0503, Bordos, Ecaterina, Onyemelukwe, Iyke I., Lamprou, Dimitrios A., Florence, Alastair J. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9706-8364, Gilmore, Ian S. and Halbert, Gavin W.;