Tunable delayed controlled release profile from layered polymeric microparticles
Composite microparticles (MPs) with layered architecture, engineered from poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) and poly(D,L-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), are promising devices for achieving the delayed release of proteins. Here, we build on a water-in-oil-in-oil-in-water emulsion method of fabricating layered MPs with an emphasis on modulating the delay period of the protein release profile. Particle hardening parameters (i.e. polymer precipitation rate and total hardening time) following water-in-oil-in-oil-in-water emulsions are known to affect MP structure such as the core/shell material and cargo localization. We demonstrate that layered MPs fabricated with two different solvent evaporation parameters not only alter polymer and protein distribution within the hardened MPs, but also affect their protein release profiles. Secondly, we hypothesize that ethanol (EtOH), a semi-polar solvent miscible in both the solvent (dichloromethane; DCM) and non-solvent aqueous phases, likely alters DCM and water flux from the dispersed oil phase. The results reveal that EtOH affects protein distribution within MPs, and may also influence MP structural properties such as porosity and polymer distribution. To our knowledge, we are the first to demonstrate EtOH as a means for modulating critical release parameters from protein-loaded, layered PLGA/PLLA MPs. Throughout all the groups in the study, we achieved differential delay periods (between 0–30 days after an initial burst release) and total protein release periods (∼30 to >58 days) as a function of solvent evaporation parameters and EtOH content. The layered MPs proposed in the study potentially have wide-reaching applications in tissue engineering for delayed and sequential protein release.