Curcumin in situ gelling polymeric insert with enhanced ocular performance

Abdelkader, Hamdy, Wertheim, David, Pierscionek, Barbara and Alany, Raid G. (2020) Curcumin in situ gelling polymeric insert with enhanced ocular performance. Pharmaceutics, 12(12), e1158. ISSN (online) 1999-4923


The search for an ocular drug delivery system that could provide long-acting effects without a detriment to the anatomy and physiology of the eye remains a challenge. Polyphenolic compounds (curcumin in particular) have recently gained popularity due to their powerful antioxidant properties; yet curcumin suffers poor stability and water solubility. A conventional eye drop formulation of curcumin in the form of a suspension is likely to suffer a short duration of action requiring multiple instillations. On the other hand, polymeric in-situ gelling inserts offer the prospect of overcoming these limitations. The aim of this study was to prepare, characterize and evaluate in vivo, polymeric, in-situ gelling and mucoadhesive inserts for ocular surface delivery of curcumin. Different types and ratios of biocompatible polymers (HPMC, CMC, PL 127 and PVA) and three plasticizers along with the solvent casting method were adopted to prepare curcumin inserts. The inserts were investigated for their physicochemical characteristics, applicability, and suitability of use for potential placement on the ocular surface. The prepared inserts revealed that curcumin was mainly dispersed in the molecular form. Insert surfaces remained smooth and uniform without cracks appearing during preparation and thereafter. Improved mechanical and mucoadhesive properties, enhanced in vitro release (7.5- to 9-fold increases in RRT300 min) and transcorneal permeation (5.4- to 8.86-fold increases in Papp) of curcumin was achieved by selected in-situ gelling inserts compared to a control curcumin suspension. The developed inserts demonstrated acceptable ocular tolerability, enhanced corneal permeability, and sustained release of curcumin along with retention of insert formulation F7 on the ocular surface for at least two-hours. This insert provides a viable alternative to conventional eye drop formulations of curcumin.

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