Conversion of a soluble diazepam prodrug to supersaturated diazepam for rapid intranasal delivery: Kinetics and stability

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The low aqueous solubility of diazepam (DZP) presents a challenge in formulating nasal sprays without the use of organic solvents. One approach to overcome this challenge involves co-administration of a soluble prodrug, avizafone (AVF), with a converting enzyme to produce supersaturated DZP at the site of administration. In addition to overcoming solubility issues, the supersaturated state of DZP provides an increased driving force for enhanced permeation across nasal mucosa. However, supersaturated solutions are metastable, and there is a limit to the degree of supersaturation (S) that can be reached without causing spontaneous phase separation of the solute. The aim of this article was to determine how formulation parameters affect the rate of DZP supersaturation, maximum degree of supersaturation, and phase separation kinetics. A model enzyme, Aspergillus oryzae protease (AOP), was used to convert AVF to DZP, via an open ring intermediate (ORI). A second derivative UV spectroscopic method was developed to simultaneously monitor DZP solution concentration and the time course of DZP phase separation. Fitting a kinetic model, with prior knowledge of the enzyme kinetic parameters, the rate constant for conversion of ORI to DZP was found to be 0.470 ± 0.012 min−1. Kinetics and supersaturated solution stability were studied as a function of formulation parameters, including temperature, pH, buffering agent, AVF concentration, and enzyme concentration. The maximum aqueous solution concentration for DZP at 32 °C was determined to be 1.22 ± 0.03 mM DZP (S = 9.38) and was insensitive to changes in formulation parameters, excepting temperature. Supersaturated solutions of DZP could be maintained at the maximum concentration for >24 h, even in the presence of phase separated DZP. Polarized light microscopy, PXRD, and DSC analysis indicated that the phase separated DZP was amorphous upon formation and remained so for >24 h. Our findings suggest that co-administration of AVF with a suitable human converting enzyme will provide a viable mechanism for IN delivery of DZP and result in very rapid and complete absorption to quickly terminate seizure emergencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
StatePublished - Nov 10 2018


  • Avizafone
  • Diazepam
  • Enzyme kinetics
  • Intranasal
  • Metastable
  • Precipitation
  • Prodrug
  • Prodrug/enzyme
  • Second derivative spectroscopy
  • Seizure emergencies
  • Spinodal
  • Supersaturated drug

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