Enhanced Transscleral Iontophoretic Transport with Ion-Exchange Membrane

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The physical properties of the Ionac ion-exchange membrane and excised rabbit sclera were determined in equilibrium uptake experiments and in passive and iontophoretic transport experiments with salicylate, tetraethylammonium, urea, and mannitol. Transscleral experiments with the ion-exchange membrane were conducted with salicylate and excised rabbit sclera in vitro. The contribution of electroosmosis to electrotransport during transscleral iontophoresis was assessed with urea and mannitol.


The ion-exchange membrane is highly positively charged and has a small effective pore size. The sclera is relatively porous with a large effective pore size and low pore tortuosity. The sclera is also net negatively charged but this does not significantly affect the transport of small ions. A three-fold steady-state transscleral flux enhancement of salicylate was observed in ion-exchange membrane-enhanced iontophoresis over conventional transscleral iontophoresis without the membrane. Such enhancement was relatively independent of the applied electric current density and the thickness of the studied ion-exchange membrane assembly. Although the ion-exchange membrane altered transscleral electroosmosis, the contribution of electroosmosis to electrotransport was not significant.


The present study has demonstrated the potential of ion-exchange membranes for enhancing iontophoretic transport and drug delivery.

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