Nanoparticulate Impurities in Pharmaceutical-Grade Sugars and their Interference with Light Scattering-Based Analysis of Protein Formulations

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Pharm Res, Volume 32, Issue 7, pp. 2419-2427 (2015)


1573-904X (Electronic)07

DOI Name (links to online publication)



PURPOSE: In the present study we investigated the root-cause of an interference signal (100-200 nm) of sugar-containing solutions in dynamic light scattering (DLS) and nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) and its consequences for the analysis of particles in biopharmaceutical drug products. METHODS: Different sugars as well as sucrose of various purity grades, suppliers and lots were analyzed by DLS and NTA before and (only for sucrose) after treatment by ultrafiltration and diafiltration. Furthermore, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) microscopy, scanning electron microscopy coupled energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX), and fluorescence spectroscopy were employed. RESULTS: The intensity of the interference signal differed between sugar types, sucrose of various purity grades, suppliers, and batches of the same supplier. The interference signal could be successfully eliminated from a sucrose solution by ultrafiltration (0.02 mum pore size). Nanoparticles, apparently composed of dextrans, ash components and aromatic colorants that were not completely removed during the sugar refinement process, were found responsible for the interference and were successfully purified from sucrose solutions. CONCLUSIONS: The interference signal of sugar-containing solutions in DLS and NTA is due to the presence of nanoparticulate impurities. The nanoparticles present in sucrose were identified as agglomerates of various impurities originating from raw materials.