• dendrimer;
  • enzyme stability;
  • β-cyclodextrin;
  • dehydration;
  • freezing and thawing, PEG;
  • trehalose;
  • catalase

Polyethylene glycol (PEG)-based low generation dendrimers are analyzed as single excipient or combined with trehalose in relation to their structure and efficiency as enzyme stabilizers during freeze-thawing, freeze-drying, and thermal treatment. A novel functional dendrimer (DGo-CD) based on the known PEG's ability as cryo-protector and β-CD as supramolecular stabilizing agent is presented. During freeze-thawing, PEG and β-CD failed to prevent catalase denaturation, while dendrimers, and especially DGo-CD, offered the better protection to the enzyme. During freeze-drying, trehalose was the best protective additive but DGo-CD provided also an adequate catalase stability showing a synergistic behavior in comparison to the activities recovered employing PEG or β-CD as unique additives. Although all the studied dendrimers improved the enzyme remaining activity during thermal treatment of freeze-dried formulations, the presence of amorphous trehalose was critical to enhance enzyme stability. The crystallinity of the protective matrix, either of PEG derivatives or of trehalose, negatively affected catalase stability in the freeze-dried systems. When humidified at 52% of relative humidity, the dendrimers delayed trehalose crystallization in the combined matrices, allowing extending the protection at those conditions in which normally trehalose fails. The results show how a relatively simple covalent combination of a polymer such as PEG with β-CD could significantly affect the properties of the individual components. Also, the results provide further insights about the role played by polymer–enzyme supramolecular interactions (host–guest crosslink, hydrogen bonding, and hydrophobic interactions) on enzyme stability in dehydrated models, being the effect on the stabilization also influenced by the physical state of the matrix. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:786–795, 2013