Nanoparticles or microparticles created by physical complexation between two polyelectrolytes may have a prospective use as an excipient for oral insulin administration. Natural polymers such as tragacanth, alginate, dextran, pullulan, hyaluronic acid, gelatin and chitosan can be potential candidates for this purpose. In this research, insulin particles were prepared by the inclusion of insulin into a tragacanth hydrogel. The effect of the pH and concentration relationship involving polyelectrolytes offering individual particle size and zeta potential was assessed by zetasizer and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Insulin–tragacanth interactions at varying pH (3.7, 4.3, 4.6, or 6), and concentration (0.1%, 0.5%, or 1% w/w) were evaluated by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and ATR Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) analysis. Individual and smaller particles, approximately 800 nm, were acquired at pH 4.6 with 0.5% of tragacanth. The acid gelation test indicated that insulin could be entrapped in the physical hydrogel of tragacanth. DSC thermograms of insulin–tragacanth showed shifts on the same unloaded tragacanth peaks and suggested polyelectrolyte–protein interactions at a pH close to 4.3–4.6. FTIR spectra of tragacanth–insulin complexes exhibited amide absorption bands featuring in the protein spectra and revealed the creation of a new chemical substance.
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