Development and characterization of a spray-dried inhalable ciprofloxacin-quercetin co-amorphous system

Int J Pharm. 2022 Apr 25;618:121657. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2022.121657. Epub 2022 Mar 11.


Spray drying is an increasingly used particle engineering technique for the production of dry powders for inhalation. However, the amorphous nature of most spray-dried particles remains a big challenge affecting both the chemical and the physical stability of the dried particles. Here, we study the possibility of producing co-amorphous ciprofloxacin-quercetin inhalable particles with improved amorphous stability compared to the individual amorphous drugs. Ciprofloxacin (CIP), a broad-spectrum antibiotic, was co-spray dried with quercetin (QUE), a compound with antibiofilm properties, from an ethanol-water co-solvent system at 2:1, 1:1 and 1:2 M ratios to investigate the formation of co-amorphous CIP-QUE particles. Differential scanning colorimetry (DSC) and X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD) were used for solid-state characterization; dynamic vapor sorption (DVS) was used for investigating the moisture sorption behaviour. The intermolecular interaction was studied via solution-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy; the miscibility of the drugs was predicted via free energy calculations based on the Flory-Huggins interaction parameter (χ). A next generation impactor (NGI) was used to study the in vitro aerosol performance of the spray-dried powders. The physicochemical characteristics such as particle size, density, morphology, cohesion, water content and saturation solubility of the spray-dried powders were also studied. The co-spray-dried CIP-QUE powders prepared at the three molar ratios were predominantly amorphous. However, differences were observed between sample types. It was found that at a molar ratio of 1:1, CIP and QUE form a single co-amorphous system. However, increasing the molar ratio of either drug results in the formation of an additional amorphous phase, formed from the excess of the corresponding drug. Despite these differences, DVS showed that elevated humidity had a much lower influence on all three co-amorphous systems compared with the individual amorphous drugs. In vitro aerosolization study showed co-deposition of the two drugs from CIP-QUE powders with a desirable aerosol performance (ED ∼ 72-94%; FPF ∼ 48-65%) whereas QUE-only amorphous powder had an ED of 36% and a FPF of 22%. In summary, spray-dried CIP-QUE combinations resulted in co-amorphous systems with boosted stability and improved aerosol performance with the 1:1 M ratio exhibiting the greatest improvement.

Keywords: Ciprofloxacin; Co-amorphous system; Cystic fibrosis; Dry powder inhaler; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Quercetin.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aerosols / chemistry
  • Ciprofloxacin* / chemistry
  • Dry Powder Inhalers* / methods
  • Particle Size
  • Powders / chemistry
  • Quercetin
  • Water


  • Aerosols
  • Powders
  • Water
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Quercetin