Sustained release of lipophilic compounds can be achieved with oil depots. These parenteral formulations are generally injected in the vastus lateralis and deltoid muscle. It is known that the absorption rate differs between these two muscles. The reason for this is not fully understood. The aim of the current study was to investigate the fate of an oil depot in different tissues to elucidate whether the disappearance rate of oil is the cause of observed differences in absorption rate. A study with healthy volunteers was conducted to determine 1.0 mL oil depots in the vastus lateralis and deltoid muscle for two weeks. The spatial distribution of the oil depots was determined using MRI. Additionally, a study in rats was conducted to microscopically examine the oil immediately and after 31 days of injection. All rats were injected with a 0.1 mL oil depot with and without benzyl alcohol (BOH), a commonly used excipient in oil depots. In humans, it was shown that all oil depots were equal in volume and surface area directly after injection. Moreover, the disappearance rate for all oil depots was similar; within one week there was no depot visible anymore by MRI. This in contrast to the depots in rats, which were still microscopically visible after 31 days. It is concluded from these observations that the oil is dispersed to small droplets in the course of time. The resulting increase in surface area does not lead to an increase in absorption rate however. The results of this paper show that the variation in drug absorption as found for the two muscles is not caused by a distinction in surface areas or disappearance rates of the oil depots. Therefore, it is argued that the local tissue drainage (e.g. lymph flow) plays a considerable role in drug absorption from oil depots, whereby the lymph flow differs between the muscles
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