Multi-Layer Self-Nanoemulsifying Pellets: an Innovative Drug Delivery System for the Poorly Water-Soluble Drug Cinnarizine


Beside their solubility limitations, some poorly water-soluble drugs undergo extensive degradation in aqueous and/or lipid-based formulations. Multi-layer self-nanoemulsifying pellets (ML-SNEP) introduce an innovative delivery system based on isolating the drug from the self-nanoemulsifying layer to enhance drug aqueous solubility and minimize degradation. In the current study, various batches of cinnarizine (CN) ML-SNEP were prepared using fluid bed coating and involved a drug-free self-nanoemulsifying layer, protective layer, drug layer, moisture-sealing layer, and/or an anti-adherent layer. Each layer was optimized based on coating outcomes such as coating recovery and mono-pellets%. The optimized ML-SNEP were characterized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), X-ray diffraction (XRD), in vitro dissolution, and stability studies. The optimized ML-SNEP were free-flowing, well separated with high coating recovery. SEM showed multiple well-defined coating layers. The acidic polyvinylpyrrolidone:CN (4:1) solution presented excellent drug-layering outcomes. DSC and XRD confirmed CN transformation into amorphous state within the drug layer. The isolation between CN and self-nanoemulsifying layer did not adversely affect drug dissolution. CN was able to spontaneously migrate into the micelles arising from the drug-free self-nanoemulsifying layer. ML-SNEP showed superior dissolution compared to Stugeron® tablets at pH 1.2 and 6.8. Particularly, on shifting to pH 6.8, ML-SNEP maintained > 84% CN in solution while Stugeron® tablets showed significant CN precipitation leaving only 7% CN in solution. Furthermore, ML-SNEP (comprising Kollicoat® Smartseal 30D) showed robust stability and maintained > 97% intact CN within the accelerated storage conditions. Accordingly, ML-SNEP offer a novel delivery system that combines both enhanced solubilization and stabilization of unstable poorly soluble drugs.

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This work was funded by National Plan for Science, Technology, and Innovation (MAARIFAH), King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Award Number (11NAN1953-02). The authors acknowledge “Kayyali Chair for Pharmaceutical Industries” for hosting the work.

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Correspondence to Ahmad Abdul-Wahhab Shahba.

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Shahba, A.AW., Ahmed, A.R., Alanazi, F.K. et al. Multi-Layer Self-Nanoemulsifying Pellets: an Innovative Drug Delivery System for the Poorly Water-Soluble Drug Cinnarizine. AAPS PharmSciTech 19, 2087–2102 (2018).

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  • self-nanoemulsifying drug delivery systems (SNEDDS)
  • self-nanoemulsifying pellets
  • poorly water-soluble drugs
  • fluid bed coating
  • solidification