Factors Affecting the Storage Stability of Lyophilized Formulations

The effects of glass transition of, and protein conformation in, the dried solid on the storage stability of freeze-dried recombinant human interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (rhIL-1ra) were examined.

Glass transition is a temperature-dependent phenomenon. Amorphous materials become hard and brittle at temperatures below their characteristic glass transition temperatures (Tg) such that diffusion of molecules along the matrix is not sufficient to cause large-scale structural changes. To ascertain the importance of the glass transition in protein storage stability, we compared 10 different lyophilized rhIL-1ra formulations, with Tgs ranging from 20 to 567C, during several weeks of storage at temperatures above and below the samples’ Tgs. Protein degradation, both deamidation and aggregation, was greatly accelerated at temperatures above Tg, but for some formulations also arose below Tg. Thus, storage of dried proteins below the Tg is necessary but not sufficient to ensure long-term stability. To examine the effects of protein structure in the dried solid, we prepared formulations with various sucrose concentrations, all of which had a Tg  66 { 2.57C. With infrared spectroscopy, we determined that the protein lyophilized with £1% sucrose was unfolded in the initial dried solid. In contrast, in those formulations with ¤5% sucrose, conformational change was inhibited during lyophilization. When stored at 507C, degradation of the freeze-dried protein varied inversely with sucrose concentration. These results indicate that structural changes arising during the lyophilization process led to damage during subsequent storage, even if the storage temperature was less than the Tg.

Together the results of these studies document that to obtain optimum stability of dried rhIL-1ra it was necessary to inhibit conformational change during lyophilization and to store at temperatures below the Tg of the dried formulation.

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