Protein drugs may encounter conformational perturbations during the formulation processing of lipid-based solid dosage forms. In aqueous protein solutions, attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared (ATR FT-IR) spectroscopy can investigate these conformational changes following the subtraction of spectral interference of solvent with protein amide I bands. However, in solid dosage forms, the possible spectral contribution of lipid carriers to protein amide I band may be an obstacle to determine conformational alterations. The objective of this study was to develop an ATR FT-IR spectroscopic method for the analysis of protein secondary structure embedded in solid lipid matrices. Bovine serum albumin (BSA) was chosen as a model protein, while Precirol AT05 (glycerol palmitostearate, melting point 58 ℃) was employed as the model lipid matrix. Bovine serum albumin was incorporated into lipid using physical mixing, melting and mixing, or wet granulation mixing methods. Attenuated total reflection FT-IR spectroscopy and size exclusion chromatography (SEC) were performed for the analysis of BSA secondary structure and its dissolution in aqueous media, respectively. The results showed significant interference of Precirol ATO5 with BSA amide I band which was subtracted up to 90% w/w lipid content to analyze BSA secondary structure. In addition, ATR FT-IR spectroscopy also detected thermally denatured BSA solid alone and in the presence of lipid matrix indicating its suitability for the detection of denatured protein solids in lipid matrices. Despite being in the solid state, conformational changes occurred to BSA upon incorporation into solid lipid matrices. However, the extent of these conformational alterations was found to be dependent on the mixing method employed as indicated by area overlap calculations. For instance, the melting and mixing method imparted negligible effect on BSA secondary structure, whereas the wet granulation mixing method promoted more changes. Size exclusion chromatography analysis depicted the complete dissolution of BSA in the aqueous media employed in the wet granulation method. In conclusion, an ATR FT-IR spectroscopic method was successfully developed to investigate BSA secondary structure in solid lipid matrices following the subtraction of lipid spectral interference. The ATR FT-IR spectroscopy could further be applied to investigate the secondary structure perturbations of therapeutic proteins during their formulation development.
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