Hyaluronan-decorated liposomes as drug delivery systems for cutaneous administration

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Graphical abstractThe work aimed to evaluate the feasibility to design hyaluronic acid (HA) decorated flexible liposomes to enhance the skin penetration of nifedipine. Egg phosphatidylcholine (e-PC) based transfersomes (Tween 80) and transethosomes (ethanol) were prepared. HA was reacted with 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (HA-DPPE) and two molar ratios (0.5 and 3%) of conjugate with respect to e-PC were tested. The presence of HA significantly increased the packing order of the bilayer (as verified by differential scanning calorimetry), reducing both the encapsulation efficiency and the flexibility of the decorated liposomes in a dose-dependent manner. In fact, at the highest HA content the constant of deformability (K, N/mm) increased and the carriers remained on the skin surface after topical application. The stiffening effect of HA was counterbalanced by the addition of ethanol as fluidizing agent that allowed to maintain the highest HA concentration, meanwhile reducing the K value of the vesicles. HA-transethosomes allowed a suitable nifedipine permeation (J ˜ 30 ng/cm2/h) and significantly improved the drug penetration, favouring the formation of a drug depot in the epidermis. These data suggest the potentialities of HA-transethosomes as drug delivery systems intended for the treatment of cutaneous pathologies and underline the importance of studying the effect of surface functionalization on carrier deformability to rationalize the design of such systems.

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