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Visual Evidence Of Acidic Environment Within Degrading Poly(lactic-co-glycolic Acid) (PLGA) Microspheres

K. Fu, D. Pack, A. Klibanov, R. Langer
Published 2004 · Chemistry, Medicine

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AbstractPurpose. In the past decade, biodegradable polymers have becomethe materials of choice for a variety of biomaterials applications. Inparticular, poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microspheres havebeen extensively studied for controlled-release drug delivery. However,degradation of the polymer generates acidic monomers, andacidification of the inner polymer environment is a central issue in thedevelopment of these devices for drug delivery. Methods. To quantitatively determine the intrapolymer acidity, weentrapped pH-sensitive fluorescent dyes (conjugated to 10,000 Dadextrans) within the microspheres and imaged them with confocalfluorescence microscopy. The technique allows visualization of thespatial and temporal distribution of pH within the degradingmicrospheres (1). Results. Our experiments show the formation of a very acidicenvironment within the particles with the minimum pH as low as 1.5. Conclusions. The images show a pH gradient, with the most acidicenvironment at the center of the spheres and higher pH near the edges,which is characteristic of diffusion-controlled release of the acidicdegradation products.
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