Molecular pharmaceutics

Using the fluorescence red edge effect to assess the long-term stability of lyophilized protein formulations.

PMID 25786057


Nanosecond relaxation processes in sugar matrices are causally linked through diffusional processes to protein stability in lyophilized formulations. Long-term protein degradation rates track mean-squared displacement (⟨u(2)⟩) of hydrogen atoms in sugar glasses, a parameter describing dynamics on a time scale of picoseconds to nanoseconds. However, measurements of ⟨u(2)⟩ are usually performed by neutron scattering, which is not conducive to rapid formulation screening in early development. Here, we present a benchtop technique to derive a ⟨u(2)⟩ surrogate based on the fluorescence red edge effect. Glycerol, lyophilized trehalose, and lyophilized sucrose were used as model systems. Samples containing 10(-6) mole fraction of rhodamine 6G, a fluorophore, were excited at either 532 nm (main peak) or 566 nm (red edge), and the ⟨u(2)⟩ surrogate was determined based the corresponding Stokes shifts. Results showed reasonable agreement between ⟨u(2)⟩ from neutron scattering and the surrogate from fluorescence, although deviations were observed at very low temperatures. We discuss the sources of the deviations and suggest technique improvements to ameliorate these. We expect that this method will be a valuable tool to evaluate lyophilized sugar matrices with respect to their ability to protect proteins from diffusion-limited degradation processes during long-term storage. Additionally, the method may have broader applications in amorphous pharmaceutical solids.

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