Compression-induced crystallization of amorphous indomethacin in tablets: Characterization of spatial heterogeneity by two-dimensional X-ray diffractometry

Naveen K. Thakral, Sarat Mohapatra, Gregory A. Stephenson, Raj Suryanarayanan

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Tablets of amorphous indomethacin were compressed at 10, 25, 50, or 100 MPa using either an unlubricated or a lubricated die and stored individually at 35 °C in sealed Mylar pouches. At selected time points, tablets were analyzed by two-dimensional X-ray diffractometry (2D-XRD), which enabled us to profile the extent of drug crystallization in tablets, in both the radial and axial directions. To evaluate the role of lubricant, magnesium stearate was used as "internal" and/or "external" lubricant. Indomethacin crystallization propensity increased as a function of compression pressure, with 100 MPa pressure causing crystallization immediately after compression (detected using synchrotron radiation). However, the drug crystallization was not uniform throughout the tablets. In unlubricated systems, pronounced crystallization at the radial surface could be attributed to die wall friction. The tablet core remained substantially amorphous, irrespective of the compression pressure. Lubrication of the die wall with magnesium stearate, as external lubricant, dramatically decreased drug crystallization at the radial surface. The spatial heterogeneity in drug crystallization, as a function of formulation composition and compression pressure, was systematically investigated. When formulating amorphous systems as tablets, the potential for compression induced crystallization warrants careful consideration. Very low levels of crystallization on the tablet surface, while profoundly affecting product performance (decrease in dissolution rate), may not be readily detected by conventional analytical techniques. Early detection of crystallization could be pivotal in the successful design of a dosage form where, in order to obtain the desired bioavailability, the drug may be in a high energy state. Specialized X-ray diffractometric techniques (2D; use of high intensity synchrotron radiation) enabled detection of very low levels of drug crystallization and revealed the heterogeneity in crystallization within the tablet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-263
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular pharmaceutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2015


  • amorphous
  • compression
  • crystallization
  • depth profiling
  • indomethacin
  • synchrotron
  • tablet
  • two-dimensional X-ray diffractometry


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