Evidence of Strong Guest–Host Interactions in Simvastatin Loaded in Mesoporous Silica MCM-41

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A rational design of drug delivery systems requires in-depth knowledge not only of the drug itself, in terms of physical state and molecular mobility, but also of how it is distributed among a carrier and its interactions with the host matrix. In this context, this work reports the behavior of simvastatin (SIM) loaded in mesoporous silica MCM-41 matrix (average pore diameter ~3.5 nm) accessed by a set of experimental techniques, evidencing that it exists in an amorphous state (X-ray diffraction, ssNMR, ATR-FTIR, and DSC). The most significant fraction of SIM molecules corresponds to a high thermal resistant population, as shown by thermogravimetry, and which interacts strongly with the MCM silanol groups, as revealed by ATR-FTIR analysis. These findings are supported by Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations predicting that SIM molecules anchor to the inner pore wall through multiple hydrogen bonds. This anchored molecular fraction lacks a calorimetric and dielectric signature corresponding to a dynamically rigid population. Furthermore, differential scanning calorimetry showed a weak glass transition that is shifted to lower temperatures compared to bulk amorphous SIM. This accelerated molecular population is coherent with an in-pore fraction of molecules distinct from bulklike SIM, as highlighted by MD simulations. MCM-41 loading proved to be a suitable strategy for a long-term stabilization (at least three years) of simvastatin in the amorphous form, whose unanchored population releases at a much higher rate compared to the crystalline drug dissolution. Oppositely, the surface-attached molecules are kept entrapped inside pores even after long-term release assays.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1320
Number of pages28
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2023


  • amorphous state
  • drug delivery development
  • drug release
  • drug-carrier multiple interactions
  • molecular mobility
  • simvastatin


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