Supersaturation is a promising strategy to improve gastrointestinal absorption of poorly water-soluble drugs. Supersaturation is a metastable state and therefore dissolved drugs often quickly precipitate again. Precipitation inhibitors can prolong the metastable state. Supersaturating drug delivery systems (SDDS) are commonly formulated with precipitation inhibitors, hence the supersaturation is effectively prolonged for absorption, leading to improved bioavailability. This review summarizes the theory of and systemic insight into supersaturation, with the emphasis on biopharmaceutical aspects. Supersaturation research has developed from the generation of supersaturation (pH-shift, prodrug and SDDS) and the inhibition of precipitation (the mechanism of precipitation, the character of precipitation inhibitors and screening precipitation inhibitors). Then, the evaluation approaches to SDDS are discussed, including in vitro, in vivo and in silico studies and in vitro–in vivo correlations. In vitro aspects involve biorelevant medium, biomimetic apparatus and characterization instruments; in vivo aspects involve oral absorption, intestinal perfusion and intestinal content aspiration and in silico aspects involve molecular dynamics simulation and pharmacokinetic simulation. More physiological data of in vitro studies should be taken into account to simulate the in vivo environment. The supersaturation theory should be further completed, especially with regard to physiological conditions.
By Yanxiong Gan, Jan P. A. Baak, Taijun Chen, Hua Ye, Wan Liao, Huixia Lv, Chuanbiao Wen & Shichao Zheng