Microencapsulation is highly attractive for oral drug delivery. Microparticles are a common form of drug carrier for this purpose. There is still a high demand on efficient methods to fabricate microparticles with uniform sizes and well-controlled particle properties. In this paper, uniform hydroxypropyl methylcellulose phthalate (HPMCP)-based pharmaceutical microparticles loaded with either hydrophobic or hydrophilic model drugs have been directly formulated by using a unique aerosol technique, i.e.
, the microfluidic spray drying technology. A series of microparticles of controllable particle sizes, shapes, and structures are fabricated by tuning the solvent composition and drying temperature. It is found that a more volatile solvent and a higher drying temperature can result in fast evaporation rates to form microparticles of larger lateral size, more irregular shape, and denser matrix. The nature of the model drugs also plays an important role in determining particle properties. The drug release behaviors of the pharmaceutical microparticles are dependent on their structural properties and the nature of a specific drug, as well as sensitive to the pH value of the release medium. Most importantly, drugs in the microparticles obtained by using a more volatile solvent or a higher drying temperature can be well protected from degradation in harsh simulated gastric fluids due to the dense structures of the microparticles, while they can be fast-released in simulated intestinal fluids through particle dissolution. These pharmaceutical microparticles are potentially useful for site-specific (enteric) delivery of orally-administered drugs.
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