Today, probiotics are predominantly used in liquid or semi-solid functionalized foods, showing a rapid loss of cell viability. Due to the increasing spread of antibiotic resistance, probiotics are promising in pharmaceutical development because of their antimicrobial effects. This increases the formulation requirements, e.g., the need for an enhanced shelf life that is achieved by drying, mainly by lyophilization. For oral administration, the process chain for production of tablets containing microorganisms is of high interest and, thus, was investigated in this study. Lyophilization as an initial process step showed low cell survival of only 12.8%. However, the addition of cryoprotectants enabled survival rates up to 42.9%. Subsequently, the dried cells were gently milled. This powder was tableted directly or after mixing with excipients microcrystalline cellulose, dicalcium phosphate or lactose. Survival rates during tableting varied between 1.4% and 24.1%, depending on the formulation and the applied compaction stress. More detailed analysis of the tablet properties showed advantages of excipients in respect of cell survival and tablet mechanical strength. Maximum overall survival rate along the complete manufacturing process was >5%, enabling doses of 6 × 108 colony forming units per gram (CFU gtotal-1), including cryoprotectants and excipients.
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