A Win-Win Solution in Oral Delivery of Lipophilic Drugs: Supersaturation via Amorphous Solid Dispersions Increases Apparent Solubility without Sacrifice of Intestinal Membrane Permeability Academic Article uri icon


  • Recently, we have revealed a trade-off between solubility increase and permeability decrease when solubility-enabling oral formulations are employed. We have shown this trade-off phenomenon to be ubiquitous, and to exist whenever the aqueous solubility is increased via solubilizing excipients, regardless if the mechanism involves decreased free fraction (cyclodextrins complexation, surfactant micellization) or simple cosolvent solubilization. Discovering a way to increase drug solubility without concomitant decreased permeability represents a major advancement in oral delivery of lipophilic drugs and is the goal of this work. For this purpose, we sought to elucidate the solubility–permeability interplay when increased apparent solubility is obtained via supersaturation from an amorphous solid dispersion (ASD) formulation. A spray-dried ASD of the lipophilic drug progesterone was prepared in the hydrophilic polymer hydroxypropyl methylcellulose acetate succinate (HPMC-AS), which enabled supersaturation up to 4× the crystalline drug's aqueous solubility (8 μg/mL). The apparent permeability of progesterone from the ASD in HPMC-AS was then measured as a function of increasing apparent solubility (supersaturation) in the PAMPA and rat intestinal perfusion models. In contrast to previous cases in which apparent solubility increases via cyclodextrins, surfactants, and cosolvents resulted in decreased apparent permeability, supersaturation via ASD resulted in no decrease in apparent permeability with increasing apparent solubility. As a result, overall flux increased markedly with increasing apparent solubility via ASD as compared to the other formulation approaches. This work demonstrates that supersaturation via ASDs has a subtle yet powerful advantage over other solubility-enabling formulation approaches. That is, increased apparent solubility may be achieved without the expense of apparent intestinal membrane permeability. Thus, supersaturation via ASDs presents a markedly increased opportunity to maximize overall oral drug absorption.

publication date

  • January 1, 2012