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α-Cyclodextrin EP, USP-NF


Application: Solubilization and stabilization of drug substances


Technical name: α-Cyclodextrin (α-CD)

CAS No: 10016-20-3

Empirical formula: C36H60O30

Molecular weight: 972.84


Cyclodextrins (CDs) are oligosaccharides used as complexing agents to increase the water solubility of lipophilic compounds and bio-availability of medicinal products.

Due to their cyclic structure, cyclodextrins can form inclusion complexes when they interact with hydrophobic drug substances; as a result, they demonstrate higher aqueous solubility than that of comparable acyclic saccharides.

Cyclodextrins are made up of six, seven or eight dextrose units, forming α-, β-, and γ-Cyclodextrins   respectively, with different cavity sizes. Cavity size is the major determinant for the suitability of                cyclodextrins in complexations.


  • High aqueous solubility of drug substances

  • Formation of inclusion complexes

  • Bio-adaptability and multi-functional properties

  • Permeability through the biological membranes


The mechanism for the increased solubility of cyclodextrins is rooted in their ability to form non-covalent dynamic inclusion complexes in solution. High solubility can lead to high dissolution rates and greater oral bioavailability and stability of biopharmaceuticals with high or low permeability and low solubility, BCS Class II and IV drug substances.

Cyclodextrins can also lower the free concentration of the drug and therefore affect significantly the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the active substance.

In addition, cyclodextrins can reduce or prevent gastrointestinal and ocular irritation, reduce or eliminate unpleasant smells or tastes, prevent pre-systemic drug-drug or drug-additive interactions within a formulation or help to convert oils and liquid drugs into microcrystalline or amorphous powders.


Cyclodextrins have multiple applications. A great number of different pharmaceutical products containing cyclodextrins are currently on the market worldwide, mostly tablets, aqueous parenteral solutions, nasal sprays and eye drop solutions.

Examples of API formulations containing α-CD, currently on the market*: Alprostadil (PGE), Cefotiam hexetil HCl, Limaprost

 * Information published in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 3, 1023-1035 (2004).



Chemical structure for α-Cyclodextrin EP, USP-NF

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