Two dimensional finite element modelling for dynamic water diffusion through stratum corneum


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Abstract

Solvents penetration through in vivo human stratum corneum (SC) has always been an interesting research area for trans-dermal drug delivery studies, and the importance of intercellular routes (diffuse in between corneocytes) and transcellular routes (diffuse through corneocytes) during diffusion is often debatable. In this paper, we have developed a two dimensional finite element model to simulate the dynamic water diffusion through the SC. It is based on the brick-and-mortar model, with brick represents corneocytes and mortar represents lipids, respectively. It simulates the dynamic water diffusion process through the SC from pre-defined initial conditions and boundary conditions. Although the simulation is based on water diffusions, the principles can also be applied to the diffusions of other topical applied substances. The simulation results show that both intercellular routes and transcellular routes are important for water diffusion. Although intercellular routes have higher flux rates, most of the water still diffuse through transcellular routes because of the high cross area ratio of corneocytes and lipids. The diffusion water flux, or trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), is reversely proportional to corneocyte size, i.e. the larger the corneocyte size, the lower the TEWL, and vice versa. There is also an effect of the SC thickness, external air conditions and diffusion coefficients on the water diffusion through SC on the resulting TEWL.Graphical abstract

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