ABSTRACT: We proposed the use of opioid drug bound covalently to hyaluronan (HA) via ester linkages as a method to prolong drug delivery and to possibly increase the quality of perioperative pain management. The in vitro release profile of morphine conjugated to HA (1.3 million MW) was studied. The influence of parameters such as conjugation site and steric protection of the labile ester bonds was investigated in phosphate buffered saline (PBS) medium. HA--codeine and HA--naloxone conjugates were used as structural controls. Codeine and morphine conjugated via the allylic hydroxyl group had a release half-life of 14.0 days in PBS. Naloxone conjugated via the phenolic hydroxyl group showed a half-life of 0.3 days, and all drugs admixed in HA showed half-lives of 0.1 days. Methyl, ethyl, or n-propyl introduced in vicinal position to the ester bond prolonged release of naloxone with half-lives of 0.5, 4.0, and 4.0 days in PBS, respectively. Incorporation of a methyl group prolonged codeine release with a half-life of 55.0 days in PBS. Drugs were released chemically unaltered from the conjugates as confirmed by LC-MS/MS. Further, morphine was conjugated to divinylsulfone cross-linked HA (Hylan B) particles and the release profiles in rat plasma were studied in vitro and in vivo. Release in rat plasma was faster than in PBS with a half-life of 2.5 days, but the release was similar (ca. 12 days) when a cocktail of protease inhibitors was added to the plasma. Sustained release of morphine was observed in a rat surgical model over 30 h. Morphine was released chemically unaltered from the conjugate and morphine intermediates were not detected in significant amounts as confirmed by LC-MS/MS. These results suggest that the morphine release profile from the HA conjugates depends on the alkyl groups vicinal to the ester and the nature of the leaving group. In rat plasma, hydrolysis seems to be controlled by esterase activity.
Bioconjugate Chemistry 09/2008; 19(9):1767-74. · 4.93 Impact Factor