Objectives Lipid-based liquid crystals formed from phytantriol (PHY) and glyceryl monooleate (GMO) retain their cubic-phase structure on dilution in physiologically relevant simulated gastrointestinal media, suggesting their potential application as sustained-release drug-delivery systems for poorly water-soluble drugs. In this study the potential of PHY and GMO to serve as sustained-release lipid vehicles for a model poorly-water-soluble drug, cinnarizine, was assessed and compared to that of an aqueous suspension formulation.
Methods Small-angle X-ray scattering was used to confirm the nanostructure of the liquid-crystalline matrix in the presence of the selected model drug, cinnarizine. Oral bioavailability studies were conducted in rats, and disposition of lipid and drug in segments of the gastrointestinal tract was determined over time. Differences in the digestibility and stability of formulations under digestion conditions were investigated using an in-vitro lipolysis model.
Key findings The oral bioavailability of cinnarizine using the PHY formulation was 41%, compared to 19% for the GMO formulation and 6% for an aqueous suspension. The PHY formulation provided a Tmax for cinnarizine of 33 h, with absorption apparent up to 55 h after administration. In contrast, the Tmax for the GMO formulation was only 5 h. The PHY formulation was retained in the stomach for extended periods of time, with 56% of lipid remaining in the stomach after 24 h, in contrast to less than 1% of the GMO formulation after 8 h, suggesting that gastric retention was a key aspect of the prolonged period of absorption, which correlated with the formulations' relative susceptibility to in-vitro lipolysis and degradation.
Conclusions PHY provides a dramatic sustained-release effect for cinnarizine on oral administration, which is linked to gastric retention of the formulation and its ability to resist digestive processing. Poorly digested liquid crystal lipid formulations therefore offer a novel class of sustained-release matrices for oral administration.