The Twofold Advantage of the Amorphous Form as an Oral Drug Delivery Practice for Lipophilic Compounds: Increased Apparent Solubility and Drug Flux Through the Intestinal Membrane Academic Article uri icon


  • The purposes of this study were to assess the efficiency of different nifedipine amorphous solid dispersions (ASDs) in achieving and maintaining supersaturation and to investigate the solubility–permeability interplay when increasing the apparent solubility via ASD formulations. Spray-dried ASDs of nifedipine in three different hydrophilic polymers, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose acetate succinate (HPMC-AS), copovidone, and polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), were prepared and characterized by powder X-ray diffraction and differential scanning calorimetry. The ability of these formulations to achieve and maintain supersaturation over 24 h was assessed. Then, nifedipine’s apparent intestinal permeability was investigated as a function of increasing supersaturation in the parallel artificial membrane permeability assay model and in the single-pass rat intestinal perfusion model. The efficiency of the different ASDs to achieve and maintain supersaturation of nifedipine was found to be highly polymer dependent; while a dispersion in HPMC-AS enabled supersaturation 20× that of the crystalline aqueous solubility, a dispersion in copovidone enabled 10×, and PVP allowed supersaturation of only 5× that of the crystalline solubility. Nifedipine flux across the intestine from supersaturated solutions was increased, and the apparent intestinal permeability was constant, irrespective of the degree of supersaturation or the polymer being used. In conclusion, while with other solubility-enabling approaches (e.g., surfactants, cyclodextrins, cosolvents), it is not enough to increase the apparent solubility, but to strike the optimal solubility–permeability balance, which limits the chances for successful drug delivery, the amorphous form emerges as a more advantageous strategy, in which higher apparent solubility (i.e., supersaturation) will be readily translated into higher drug flux and overall absorption.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013