Understanding the effects of a polymer on the surface dissolution of pharmaceutical cocrystals using combined experimental and molecular dynamics simulation approaches




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ACS Publications



Peer reviewed



The molecular interactions between the surfaces of cocrystals [i.e., flufenamic acid and theophylline (FFA-TP), flufenamic acid and nicotinamide (FFA-NIC), and carbamazepine and nicotinamide (CBZ-NIC)] and the polymers [i.e., polyethyleneglycol (PEG), polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and copolymer of vinylpyrrolidone (60%)/vinyl acetate (40%) (PVP-VA)] were investigated through combined experimental and molecular dynamics simulation approaches to resolve the mechanisms of cocrystal dissolution and precipitation. It was found that adsorption of the polymers on the surfaces of cocrystals might prevent the precipitation of the parent drug and alter the dissolution rate. The effect of polymers on precipitation could be determined by the cocrystal dissolution rate, the interactions of polymers with the surfaces of cocrystals, the characters of the noncovalent bonds formed between the polymers and the cocrystal surfaces, and the mobility and conformation of the polymers. The etching experiments of single cocrystals revealed that FFA-NIC and CBZ-NIC appeared as surface precipitation cocrystals while FFA-TP could lead to bulk precipitation. Both PVP and PVP-VA were good precipitation inhibitors for FFA-NIC and they could completely inhibit the recrystallization of FFA III on the surfaces of dissolving cocrystals. In addition, as the adsorption of the polymer was slower than dissolution rate of the cocrystals, PVP and PVP-VA could only partially inhibit the recrystallization of CBZ dihydrate on the surface of CBZ-NIC. While PEG had no inhibitory effect on the surface crystallization of FFA-NIC and CBZ-NIC, due to its weak interactions with the surfaces of the cocrystals, it enhanced the dissolution performance of FFA-TP. In contrast, PVP and PVP-VA reduced the dissolution rate of FFA-TP and subsequently undermined the performance of cocrystals. Taken together, the approach of combining experimental and molecular dynamics simulation provided insights into the mechanisms of cocrystal dissolution as well as the polymers acting as inhibitory excipients for precipitation/recrystallisation, making contribution to the development of novel formulations.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.



Kirubakaran, P., Wang, K., Rosbottom, I., Cross, R.B.M., Li, M. (2019) Understanding the Effects of a Polymer on the Surface Dissolution of Pharmaceutical Cocrystals Using Combined Experimental and Molecular Dynamics Simulation Approaches. Molecular Pharmaceutics,


Research Institute

Leicester Institute for Pharmaceutical Innovation - From Molecules to Practice (LIPI)