The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of the coformer difference on particle surface solution-mediated phase transformation (PS-SMPT) during cocrystal particle dissolution in aqueous media in the absence and presence of polymers. SMPT can occur either in the bulk phase or at the particle surface because drug molecules can be supersaturated at the dissolving cocrystal surface, as well as in the bulk phase. Previously, bulk phase SMPT has been primarily investigated in formulation development. However, little is known about the effects of coformers and polymers on PS-SMPT of cocrystals. In this study, six carbamazepine (CBZ) cocrystals were used as model cocrystals (malonic acid (MAL), succinic acid (SUC), glutaric acid (GLA), adipic acid (ADP), saccharin (SAC), and nicotinamide (NCT); nonsink dissolution tests were performed with or without a precipitation inhibitor (hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC)) at pH 6.5. The residual particles were analyzed by powder X-ray diffraction, differential scanning calorimetry, polarized light microscopy (PLM), and scanning electron microscopy. Real-time PLM was used to directly observe rapid PS-SMPT. In the absence of HPMC, supersaturation was not observed in the bulk phase for all cocrystals. All cocrystals rapidly transformed to CBZ dihydrate aggregates via PS-SMPT (mostly within 1 min). In contrast, in the presence of 0.1% HPMC, supersaturation was observed for CBZ-SUC, CBZ-ADP, CBZ-SAC, and CBZ-NCT but not for CBZ-MAL and CBZ-GLA. The cocrystals with lower solubility coformers tended to induce higher supersaturation in the bulk phase. The PS-SMPT of CBZ-SUC, CBZ-ADP, and CBZ-SAC was slowed down by HPMC. By suppressing PS-SMPT, the cocrystals exhibited its supersaturation potential, depending on the properties of each coformer. To take advantage of the supersaturation potential of cocrystals to improve oral drug absorption, it is important to suppress particle surface SMPT in addition to bulk phase SMPT.
Keywords: carbamazepine; cocrystal; coformer; dissolution test; induction time; mean diffusion time; nonsink; supersaturation.