Phonophoresis of Methyl Nicotinate: A Preliminary Study to Elucidate the Mechanism of Action

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The skin penetration enhancement effect of ultrasound (phonophoresis) on methyl nicotinate was investigated in 10 healthy volunteers in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover clinical trial. Each treatment consisted of the application of ultrasound massage (3.0 MHz, 1.0 W/cm2 continuous output) or placebo massage (0 MHz) for 5 min to the forearms of the volunteers, followed by a standardized application of methyl nicotinate at intervals of 15 sec, 1 min, and 2 min postmassage. Percutaneous absorption of methyl nicotinate was monitored using laser Doppler velocimetry. Ultrasound treatment applied prior to methyl nicotinate led to enhanced percutaneous absorption of the drug, for example, ultrasound treatment data versus control data at 2 min showed significant increases (P < 0.05; analysis of variance) in the peak blood flow (125.8 ± 12.0 vs 75.3 ± 10.4% flux) and in the area under the curve for blood flow (2630.3 ± 387.5 vs 1567.6 ± 183.5% flux · min). The results of this study suggest that ultrasound affects the skin structure to provide skin penetration enhancement. This finding is consistent with the proposed hypothesis that phonophoresis acts by disordering the structured lipids in the stratum corneum.

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