Epidermal Iontophoresis: II. Application of the Ionic Mobility-Pore Model to the Transport of Local Anesthetics

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An in vitro study was carried out to determine the iontophoretic permeability of local anesthetics through human epidermis. The relationship between physicochemical structure and the permeability of these solutes was then examined using an ionic mobility-pore model developed to define quantitative relationships.


The iontophoretic permeability of both ester-type anesthetics (procaine, butacaine, tetracaine) and amide-type anesthetics (prilocaine, mepivacaine, lidocaine, bupivacaine, etidocaine, cinchocaine) were determined through excised human epidermis over 2 hrs using a constant d.c. current and Ag/AgCl electrodes. Individual ion mobilities were determined from conductivity measurements in aqueous solutions. Multiple stepwise regression was applied to interrelate the iontophoretic permeability of the solutes with their physical properties to examine the appropriateness of the ionic mobility-pore model and to determine the best predictor of iontophoretic permeability of the local anesthetics.


The logarithm of the iontophoretic permeability coefficient (log PCj, iont) for local anesthetics was directly related to the log ionic mobility and MW for the free volume form of the model when other conditions are held constant. Multiple linear regressions confirmed that log PCj, iont was best defined by ionic mobility (and its determinants: conductivity, pKa and MW) and MW.


Our results suggest that of the properties studied, the best predictors of iontophoretic transport of local anesthetics are ionic mobility (or pKa) and molecular size. These predictions are consistent with the ionic mobility pore model determined by the mobility of ions in the aqueous solution, the total current, epidermal permselectivity and other factors as defined by the model.

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