Analysis of the Combined Effect of 1-Menthol and Ethanol as Skin Permeation Enhancers Based on a Two-Layer Skin Model

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The combined effects of 1-menthol and ethanol as a skin permeation enhancer were evaluated with two equations describing the permeability coefficient through full-thickness skin (PFT) and the full-thickness skin/vehicle concentration ratio (CFT/ CV) of drugs as a function of their octanol/vehicle partition coefficient (KOV). A two-layer model was applied for skin, which consists of a stratum corneum (SC) with lipid and porous pathways and a viable epidermis and dermis (ED). The two equations contain one variable (KOV) and nine coefficients, six of which (three diffusion coefficients, the porosity of the SC, and two terms of the linear free energy relationship) were considered different, dependent on the drug vehicle. In vitro permeation of four drugs (morphine hydrochloride, atenolol, nifedipine, and vinpocetine) was determined using excised hairless rat skin and four aqueous vehicles (water, 5% 1-menthol, 40% ethanol, and 5% l-menthol–40% ethanol) to measure each PFT. Drug concentrations in full-thickness skin were also measured to obtain CFT/ CV. A nonlinear least-squares method was employed to determine six coefficients using the two equations and experimentally obtained PFT and CFT/ CV. The addition of 1-menthol to water and 40% ethanol increased the diffusion coefficient of drugs in lipid and pore pathways of SC, whereas the addition of ethanol to water and 5% 1-menthol increased the drug solubility in the vehicle, decreased the skin polarity, and increased the contribution of the pore pathway to whole-skin permeation.

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