The first paper of this series presented the fabrication and characterization of POE-PEG-POE triblock copolymeric microspheres containing protein. In this paper, we focus on the polymer erosion and the mechanism of protein release. Fourteen-week in vitro behaviors of POE-PEG-POE microspheres loaded with bovine serum albumin (BSA) have been monitored. SEM micrographs reveal that after 14-week incubation in PBS buffer, pH 7.4, 37°C, the polymeric particles remain spherical despite mass loss of almost 90%. On the other hand, molecular weight undergoes a high initial loss of 38% and 44% during the first 2-week incubation for POE-PEG(5%)-POE and POE-PEG(10%)-POE, respectively. Then, it keeps relatively unchanged over 12 weeks. However, POE-PEG(20%)-POE copolymer provides a better compatibility between the POE and PEG blocks. Hydrolysis is homogeneous through the polymer backbone. Thus, its molecular weight remains relatively constant and mass loss shows quite sustained over the 14-week in vitro release. The similar phenomena are observed in the polydispersity index of the degrading copolymers. SDS-PAGE of the encapsulated BSA within the POE-PEG(5%)-POE microspheres displays that the structural integrity of BSA is intact for at least 8 weeks due to a mild environment provided by the copolymer. In addition, XPS and FTIR are utilized to investigate protein behaviors in the degrading microspheres. Protein release from the POE-PEG-POE microspheres shows a biphasic pattern, characterized by an initial stage followed by a non-detectable release. The non-release phase is dominated by either slow polymer degradation or dense microsphere matrix structures. The microsphere formulation is optimized and a sustained protein release over 2 weeks is achieved by using POE-PEG(20%)-POE at a high protein loading.
- POE-PEG-POE triblock copolymer
- Polymer erosion
- Protein in vitro release
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmaceutical Science