Qualification of non-halogenated organic solvents applied to microsphere manufacturing process

Hyunjin Shim, Hongkee Sah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


As a non-halogenated dispersed solvent, ethyl acetate has been most commonly used for the manufacturing of poly-D,L-lactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) microspheres. However, ethyl acetate-based microencapsulation processes face several limitations. This study was aimed at proposing ethyl formate as an alternative. Evaluated in this study was the solvent qualification of ethyl formate and ethyl acetate for microencapsulation of a hydrophobic drug into PLGA microspheres. An oil-in-water emulsion solvent extraction technique was developed to load progesterone into PLGA microspheres. Briefly, right after emulsion droplets were temporarily stabilized, they were subject to primary solvent extraction. Appearing semisolid, embryonic microspheres were completely hardened through subsequent secondary solvent extraction. Changes in process parameters of the preparative technique made it possible to manipulate the properties of emulsion droplets, progesterone behavior, and microsphere quality. Despite the two solvents showing comparable Hansen solubility parameter distances toward PLGA, ethyl formate surpassed ethyl acetate in relation to volatility and water miscibility. These features served as advantages in the microsphere manufacturing process, helping produce PLGA microspheres with better quality in terms of drug crystallization, drug encapsulation efficiency, microsphere size homogeneity, and residual solvent content. The present ethyl formate-based preparative technique could be an attractive method of choice for the production of drug-loaded PLGA microspheres.

Original languageEnglish
Article number425
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • L-lactide-co-glycolide
  • Microencapsulation
  • Microspheres
  • Poly-D
  • Solvent qualification


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