Solid lipid nanoparticle (SLN) suspensions, which consist of submicron-sized crystalline lipid particles dispersed within an aqueous medium, can be used to encapsulate, protect and deliver lipophilic functional components. Nevertheless, SLN suspensions are susceptible to particle aggregation and gelation during their preparation and storage, which potentially limits their industrial utilization. In this study, we examined the aggregation and gelation behavior of SLN suspensions composed of 10 wt% tripalmitin particles (r < 150 nm) stabilized by 1.5% Tween 20. The tripalmitin and aqueous surfactant solution were homogenized above the lipid melting temperature and cooled under controlled conditions to initiate SLN formation. The aggregation and gelation of SLN suspensions during storage was then examined by shear rheometry, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), light scattering and microscopy. Rheology measurements indicated that gelation times decreased with increasing storage temperature, e.g., samples formed weak gels after 62, 23, and 10 min at 1, 5, and 10 °C, respectively. DSC revealed increasingly rapid α- to β-polymorphic transformations in SLN dispersions stored at 1, 5, and 10 °C, respectively. We propose that the observed aggregation and gelation of SLN suspensions are associated with a change in the shape of the nanoparticles from spherical (α-form) to non-spherical (β-form) when they undergo the polymorphic transition. When they change shape there is no longer sufficient surfactant present to completely cover the lipid phase, which promotes particle aggregation through hydrophobic attraction. Our results have important implications for the design and fabrication of stable SLN suspensions.
- solid lipid nanoparticles,
- polymorphic transformations
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/djulian_mcclements/66/