Solvent selection causes remarkable shifts of the “Ouzo region” for poly(lactide-co-glycolide) nanoparticles prepared by nanoprecipitation†
Polymer nanoparticles (NPs) offer versatile novel biological features of interest for drug delivery applications. “Ouzo diagrams” allowed for a systematic manufacture of specified colloidal formulations by the widely used nanoprecipitation process. Surprisingly, despite the well-documented relevance of the applied organic solvent for nanoprecipitation, its effect on the actual status of the “Ouzo region” was so far not studied. Herein, investigations were undertaken to account for the potential impact of the solvent type on the “Ouzo diagrams” for poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) and tetrahydrofuran (THF), 1,4-dioxane, acetone and dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). The “Ouzo region” shifted considerably to higher polymer fractions upon solvent change (rank order: THF < 1,4-dioxane < acetone < DMSO). Assuming a one-to-one transformation of detached PLGA-bearing solvent droplets (droplet diameter for THF: ∼800 nm, 1,4-dioxane: ∼700 nm, acetone: ∼500 nm and DMSO: ∼300 nm) into non-divisible polymer aggregates upon solvent displacement, facilitated to predict the size of NPs found within the “Ouzo region” (size range: 40–200 nm). In conclusion, application of “Ouzo diagrams” is a valuable tool for drug delivery research and will most-likely replace the “trial-and-error”-approach to identify the operating window for the production of stable colloidal formulations by the nanoprecipitation technique.