Indexed on: 29 Nov '13Published on: 29 Nov '13Published in: Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
In the present study, a series of sustained drug delivery multiarm poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)/silica hydrogels were prepared and characterized. The hydrogels were formed by hydrolysis and condensation of poly(4-arm PEG silicate) using the sol-gel method. The relationships between water content in the PEG/silica hydrogel and stability as well as rheological properties were evaluated. Scanning electron microscopy analysis of the PEG/silica hydrogels revealed water content-dependent changes in microstructure. An increase in water content resulted in larger pores within the hydrogel, longer gelation time and higher viscosity. The PEG/silica hydrogels were loaded with dexamethasone (DMS) or dexamethasone sodium phosphate (DMSP), drugs that are hydrophobic and hydrophilic in nature, respectively. Evaluation of in vitro release revealed a zero-order release profile for DMS over the first 6 days, suggesting that degradation of the silica hydrogel matrix was the primary mechanism of drug release. It was also found that the drug-release profile could be tailored by varying the water content used during hydrogel preparation. In contrast, more than 90% of DMSP was released within 1 h, suggesting that DMSP release was only controlled by diffusion. Overall, results from this study indicate that PEG/silica hydrogels may be promising drug-eluting depot materials for the sustained delivery of hydrophobic, ophthalmic drugs.