The aim of this study was to employ experimental and molecular modelling approaches to use molecular level interactions to rationalise the selection of suitable polymers for use in the production of stable domperidone (DOMP) nanocrystals with enhanced bioavailability. A low-energy antisolvent precipitation method was used for the preparation and screening of polymers for stable nanocrystals of DOMP. Ethyl cellulose was found to be very efficient in producing stable DOMP nanocrystals with particle size of 130 ± 3 nm. Moreover, the combination of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose and polyvinyl alcohol was also shown to be better in producing DOMP nanocrystals with smaller particle size (200 ± 3.5 nm). DOMP nanosuspension stored at 2-8 °C and at room temperature (25 °C) exhibited better stability compared to the samples stored at 40 °C. Crystallinity of the unprocessed and processed DOMP was monitored by differential scanning calorimetry and powder X-ray diffraction. DOMP nanocrystals gave enhanced dissolution rate compared to the unprocessed drug substance. DOMP nanocrystals at a dose of 10 mg/kg in rats showed enhanced bioavailability compared to the raw drug substance and marketed formulation. A significant increase in plasma concentration of 2.6 μg/mL with a significant decrease in time (1 h) to reach maximum plasma concentration was observed for DOMP nanocrystals compared to the raw DOMP. Molecular modelling studies provided underpinning knowledge at the molecular level of the DOMP-polymer nanocrystal interactions and substantiated the experimental studies. This included an understanding of the impact of polymers on the size of nanocrystals and their associated stability characteristics.
Keywords: Dissolution; Domperidone; Enhanced bioavailability; Molecular modelling; Nanocrystals; Polymers.