Going skin deep: A direct comparison of penetration potential of lipid-based nanovesicles on the isolated perfused human skin flap model

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Phospholipid-based nanocarriers are attractive drug carriers for improved local skin therapy. In the present study, the recently developed isolated perfused human skin flap (IPHSF) model was used to directly compare the skin penetration enhancing potential of the three commonly used nanocarriers, namely conventional liposomes (CLs), deformable liposomes (DLs) and solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs). Two fluorescent markers, calcein (hydrophilic) or rhodamine (lipophilic), were incorporated individually in the three nanosystems. The nanocarrier size ranged between 200 and 300 nm; the surface charge and entrapment efficiency for both markers were dependent on the lipid composition and the employed surfactant. Both carrier-associated markers could not penetrate the full thickness human skin, confirming their suitability for dermal drug delivery. CLs exhibited higher retention of both markers on the skin surface compared to DLs and SLNs, indicating a depo formation. DLs and SLNs enabled the deeper penetration of the two markers into the skin layers. In vitro and ex vivo skin penetration studies performed on the cellophane membrane and full thickness pig/human skin, respectively, confirmed the findings. In conclusion, efficient dermal drug delivery can be achieved by optimization of a lipid nanocarrier on the suitable skin-mimicking model to assure system’s accumulation in the targeted skin layer.

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