The phase behavior of poloxamer 188 (P188) in aqueous solutions, characterized by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and synchrotron X-ray diffractometry, revealed solute crystallization during both freezing and thawing. Sucrose and trehalose inhibited P188 crystallization during freeze-thawing (FT). While trehalose inhibited P188 crystallization only during cooling, sucrose completely suppressed P188 crystallization during both cooling and heating. Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) served as a model protein to evaluate the stabilizing effect of P188. The ability of P188, over a concentration range of 0.003-0.800% w/v, to prevent LDH (10 μg/mL) destabilization was evaluated. After five FT cycles, the aggregation behavior (by dynamic light scattering) and activity recovery were evaluated. While LDH alone was sensitive to interfacial stress, P188 at concentrations of ≥0.100% w/v stabilized the protein. However, as the surfactant concentration decreased, protein aggregation after FT increased. The addition of sugar (1.0% w/v; sucrose or trehalose) improved the stabilizing function of P188 at lower concentrations (≤0.010% w/v), possibly due to the inhibition of surfactant crystallization. Based on a comparison with the stabilization effect of polysorbate (both 20 and 80), it was evident that P188 could be a promising alternative surfactant in frozen protein formulations. However, when the surfactant concentration is low, the potential for P188 crystallization and the consequent compromise in its functionality warrant careful consideration.
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- X-ray diffractometry
- differential scanning calorimetry
- dynamic light scattering
- protein aggregation