Despite the growing interest in lipid-based formulations, their polymorphism is still a challenge in the pharmaceutical industry. Understanding and controlling the polymorphic behavior of lipids is a key element for achieving the quality and preventing stability issues. This study aims to evaluate the impact of different oral-approved liquid lipids (LL) on the polymorphism, phase transitions and structure of solid lipid-based formulations and explore their influence on drug release. The LL investigated were isopropyl myristate, ethyl oleate, oleic acid, medium chain trigycerides, vitamin E acetate, glyceryl monooleate, lecithin and sorbitane monooleate. Spray-congealing was selected as an example of a melting-based solvent-free manufacturing method to produce microparticles (MPs) of tristearin (Dynasan®
118). During the production process, tristearin MPs crystallized in the metastable α-form. Stability studied evidenced a slow phase transition to the stable β-polymorph overtime, with the presence of the α-form still detected after 60 days of storage at 25 °C. The addition of 10% w/w
of LL promoted the transition of tristearin from the α-form to the stable β-form with a kinetic varying from few minutes to days, depending on the specific LL. The combination of various techniques (DSC, X-ray diffraction analysis, Hot-stage polarized light microscopy, SEM) showed that the addition of LL significantly modified the crystal structure of tristearin-based formulations at different length scales. Both the polymorphic form and the LL addition had a strong influence on the release behavior of a model hydrophilic drug (caffeine). Overall, the addition of LL can be considered an interesting approach to control triglyceride crystallization in the β-form. From the industrial viewpoint, this approach might be advantageous as any polymorphic change will be complete before storage, hence enabling the production of stable lipid formulations.
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