We developed injectable hydrogels for the slow release of analgesic drugs in birds as an in vivo model of pharmacokinetics in wild avian species. Hydrogels loaded with sodium salicylate (NaSA) were injected subcutaneously in Ross broiler chickens. The hydrogels were made by dissolving sodium alginate and NaSA in water at 2 different concentrations (low, LALG; high, HALG) and then adding calcium chloride. In vitro drug release studies were performed by swelling the hydrogels in water and analyzing serial samples by ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectroscopy. Dried hydrogel films of the same formulations of the two alginate concentrations then were dissolved in sterile water for the in vivo pharmacokinetic study conducted in 18 chickens divided into 3 groups of 6 birds. Each of the 2 resultant NaSA hydrogel solutions were filtered with 0.2-µm syringe filters before injecting at a NaSA dose of 150 mg/kg SC in the respective LALG or HALG groups. The control group was injected SC with the same dose of NaSA dissolved in water. Pharmacokinetics parameters calculated by the compartmental and noncompartmental approaches were compared among the 3 groups by the Kruskal-Wallis test. Results of in vitro studies showed that both hydrogels released 80% of the drug during the first 3.5 hours. Results of the pharmacokinetic study indicated that NaSA concentrations remained above the minimum effective concentration (MEC) for analgesia in humans for 24 ± 8.9 (LALG) to 26 ± 4 (HALG) hours for the hydrogel formulations compared to 10 ± 5.6 hours for the aqueous formulation. These hydrogel formulations may have potential in providing long-term analgesia in avian species, but need further evaluation with pharmacodynamic or pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modeling studies.
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