Journal of pharmaceutical sciences

Novel polymeric bioerodable microparticles for prolonged-release intrathecal delivery of analgesic agents for relief of intractable cancer-related pain.

PMID 25990226


Intractable cancer-related pain complicated by a neuropathic component due to nerve impingement is poorly alleviated even by escalating doses of a strong opioid analgesic. To address this unmet medical need, we developed sustained-release, bioerodable, hydromorphone (potent strong opioid)- and ketamine (analgesic adjuvant)-loaded microparticles for intrathecal (i.t.) coadministration. Drug-loaded poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microparticles were prepared using a water-in-oil-in-water method with evaporation. Encapsulation efficiency of hydromorphone and ketamine in PLGA (50:50) microparticles was 26% and 56%, respectively. Microparticles had the desired size range (20-60 μm) and in vitro release was prolonged at ≥28 days. Microparticles were stable for ≥6 months when stored refrigerated protected from light in a desiccator. Desirably, i.t. injected fluorescent dye-labeled PLGA microparticles in rats remained in the lumbar region for ≥7 days. In a rat model of neuropathic pain, i.t. coinjection of hydromorphone- and ketamine-loaded microparticles (each 1 mg) produced analgesia for 8 h only. Possible explanations include inadequate release of ketamine and/or hydromorphone into the spinal fluid, and/or insufficient ketamine loading to prevent development of analgesic tolerance to the released hydromorphone. As sub-analgesic doses of i.t. ketamine at 24-48 h intervals restored analgesia on each occasion, insufficient ketamine loading appears problematic. We will investigate these issues in future work.