Electrospun-based drug delivery is emerging as a versatile means of localized therapy; however, controlling the release rates of active agents still remains as a key question. We propose a facile strategy to control the drug release behavior from electrospun fibers by a simple modification of polymer matrices. Polylactic acid (PLA) was used as a major component of the drug-carrier, and doxorubicin hydrochloride (Dox) was used as a model drug. The influences of a polar co-solvent, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), and a hydrophilic polymer additive, polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), on the drug miscibility, loading efficiency and release behavior were investigated. The use of DMSO enabled the homogeneous internalization of the drug as well as higher drug loading efficiency within the electrospun fibers. The PVP additive induced phase separation in the PLA matrix and acted as a porogen. Preferable partitioning of Dox into the PVP domain resulted in increased drug loading efficiency in the PLA/PVP fiber. Fast dissolution of PVP domains created pores in the fibers, facilitating the release of internalized Dox. The novelty of this study lies in the detailed experimental investigation of the effect of additives in pre-spinning formulations, such as co-solvents and polymeric porogens, on the drug release behavior of nanofibers.
Keywords: co-solvent; dimethyl sulfoxide; doxorubicin; drug release; electrospinning; phase separation; poly(lactic acid); polyvinylpyrrolidone; porogen.