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Smart pH-responsive co-polymeric hydrogels for controlled delivery of capecitabine: Fabrication, Optimization and in vivo toxicology screening

Author(s):

Umaira Rehman, Rai Muhammad Sarfraz, Asif Mahmood, Zahid Hussain*, Hnin Ei Thu, Nadiah Zafar, Muhammad Umar Ashraf and Nighat Batool  

Abstract:


Background: Despite exhibiting promising anticancer potential, the clinical significance of capecitabine (a potent prodrug of 5-fluorouracil used for treatment of colorectal cancer) is limited owing to its acidic and enzymatic hydrolysis, lower absorption following the oral administration, poor bioavailability, short plasma half-life and poor patient compliance.

Objectives: The present study was aimed to fabricate the capecitabine as smart pH-responsive hydrogel network to efficiently facilitate its oral delivery while shielding its stability in the gastric media.

Methods: The smart pH sensitive HP-β-CD/agarose-g-poly(MAA) hydrogel network was developed using an aqueous free radical polymerization technique. The developed hydrogels were characterized for drug-loading efficiency, structural and compositional features, thermal stability, swelling behaviour, morphology, physical form, and release kinetics. The pH-responsive behaviour of developed hydrogels was established by conducting the swelling and release behaviour at different pH values (1.2 and 7.4), demonstrating significantly higher swelling and release at pH 7.4 as compared with pH 1.2. The capecitabine-loaded hydrogels were also screened for acute oral toxicity in animals by analysing the body weight, water and food intake, dermal toxicity, ocular toxicity, biochemical analysis, and histological examination.

Results: The characteristic evaluations revealed that capecitabine (anticancer agent) was successfully loaded into the hydrogel network. Capecitabine loading was ranged from 71.22% to 90.12%. An interesting feature of hydrogel was its pH-responsive behaviour which triggers release at basic pH (94.25%). Optimum swelling (95%) was seen at pH 7.4. Based upon regression coefficient R2 (0.96 – 0.99) best fit model was zero order. The extensive toxicity evaluations evidenced good safety profile with no signs of oral, dermal or ocular toxicities, as well as no variations in blood parameters and histology of vital organs.

Conclusion: Our findings conclusively evinced that the developed hydrogel exhibited excellent pharmaceutical and therapeutic potential and thus can be employed as pH-responsive system for controlled delivery of anticancer agents.

Keywords:

Capecitabine, hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin, agarose, hydrogel, controlled release, colorectal cancer.

Affiliation:

Department of Pharmaceutics, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Department of Pharmaceutics, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Department of Pharmaceutics, The University of Lahore, Lahore, Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology, College of Pharmacy, University of Sharjah, Sharjah 27272, Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Lincoln University College, Selangor, Department of Pharmaceutics, The University of Lahore, Lahore, Department of Pharmaceutics, The University of Lahore, Lahore, Department of Pharmaceutics, University of Sargodha, Sargodha



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