Gelatin behaviour in dilute aqueous solution : designing a nanoparticulate formulation

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Farrugia, Claude ; Groves, Michael J. (1999)

Although it has been claimed that nanoparticles can be produced from gelatin, a naturally occurring polypeptide, the commercial conversion of animal collagen to gelatin results in a heterogeneous product with a wide molecular-weight range. This is probably responsible for the widely observed variation in the experimental conditions required for nanoparticle formation. In this study, 0.2% w/v aqueous B225 gelatin solutions were incubated under various conditions of time, temperature, pH and ethanol concentration and characterized by both size-exclusion high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and dynamic light scattering. Gelatin was shown to be denatured when the temperature was increased to 37°C (approx.) and the rate of renaturation was optimized over the temperature range 7–20°Cat pH5.0, equivalent to the isoelectric point (IEP). The molecular-weight profile remained unchanged at 37°C (approx.) in the pH range 5–7. When the gelatin solutions were mixed with ethanol, higher-molecular-weight fractions (microgel, δ and ζ fractions, all with molecular weights > 700 kDa) precipitated at ethanol concentrations lower than those required to precipitate the lower molecular weight material (< 700 kDa), with maximum precipitation occurring close to the isoelectric point (pH 5.0). The molecular weight profile of gelatin in solution is evidently critically affected in a time-dependent manner by both pH and temperature. These two factors influence the noncovalent interactions responsible for the molecular structure of gelatin. The molecular weight profiles, in turn, affect the phase behaviour of gelatin in hydroalcoholic solutions. Systematically investigating the effect of time, temperature, pH and ethanol concentration on the molecular-weight-distribution profile of a gelatin solution enabled a robust method to be developed for the preparation of colloidal dispersions of non-aggregated gelatin nanoparticles 220–250 nm in diameter. This contrasts with the multiparticulate aggregates produced by earlier literature methods.
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