Combining ibuprofen sodium with cellulosic polymers: A deep dive into mechanisms of prolonged supersaturation

Jenna L. Terebetski, Bozena Michniak-Kohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


The combination of a highly soluble salt form of a drug with a polymeric precipitation inhibitor has the potential to prolong drug supersaturation even following salt disproportionation. In this study, dissolution profiles of ibuprofen sodium in the presence of various cellulosic polymers, including hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), methylcellulose (MC), and hydroxypropyl cellulose (HPC), were examined in order to assess degree and duration of supersaturation. In addition, the roles that the polymers played in altering drug solubility, media viscosity, physical form, and particle morphology were also assessed. A deep dive into the mechanisms of supersaturation revealed that intermolecular hydrogen bonding between ibuprofen and HPMC was driving supersaturation through nucleation inhibition and crystal growth modification. Polymer viscosity was proposed as the primary factor prolonging supersaturation of ibuprofen in the presence of MC, while mechanisms other than hydrogen bonding were likely to be attributed to supersaturation with the most hydrophobic polymer evaluated, HPC. Overall, the study suggested that induction of intermolecular interactions between ibuprofen and HPMC were more effective at inhibiting nucleation and maintaining prolonged supersaturation than physical modulation of solution properties, such as viscosity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-546
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 20 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmaceutical Science


  • Crystal growth
  • HPMC
  • Hydrogen bonding
  • Ibuprofen
  • Nucleation inhibition
  • Supersaturation

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