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Tramadol encapsulated into polyhydroxybutyrate microspheres: in vitro release and epidural analgesic effect in rats

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Controlled release techniques are used to increase the duration of action and decrease the toxicity of drugs. Any controlled release form of tramadol in spinal or epidural blocks has not been studied previously. Tramadol was encapsulated into polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) microspheres and release kinetics was studied. The epidural analgesic effect of this solution in rats was also compared with free tramadol. Methods: 

Controlled release of tramadol from PHB microspheres into 10 ml of phosphate buffer solution at pH 7.4 and 37 °C was studied in vitro. In vivo studies were performed in 40 rats. Epidural catheters were placed during general anaesthesia. Rats were randomly allocated into one of the four study groups to receive normal saline, 4 mg of tramadol, PHB microspheres without tramadol, or 4 mg of tramadol encapsulated into PHB microspheres. Analgesia was evaluated with tail flick tests performed at 52.5 ± 0.5 °C before injection and at intervals up to 30 h after injection. Catalepsy and loss of corneal reflexes were considered as signs of supraspinal toxicity. Results: 

In vitro drug release was observed for more than 6 days. Epidural analgesic effects of tramadol released from PHB microspheres were observed for 21 h, whereas an equal dose of free tramadol was effective for less than 5 h. No signs of toxicity were observed. Conclusion: 

Controlled release of tramadol from PHB microspheres is possible, and pain relief during epidural analgesia is prolonged by this drug formulation compared with free tramadol.

Keywords: analgesic techniques; analgesics; biocompatible polymers; controlled drug release; epidural analgesia; microencapsulation; polyhydroxybutyrate; rat; tramadol

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Anaesthesiology and Reanimation, 2: Hacettepe University Faculty of Science, Department of Biology, 3: Fatih University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neurosurgery, and 4: Hacettepe University Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry, Ankara, Turkey

Publication date: 2003-09-01

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