Effects of Ionic Strength on Passive and Iontophoretic Transport of Cationic Permeant Across Human Nail

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Transport across the human nail under hydration can be modeled as hindered transport across aqueous pore pathways. As such, nail permselectivity to charged species can be manipulated by changing the ionic strength of the system in transungual delivery to treat nail diseases. The present study investigated the effects of ionic strength upon transungual passive and iontophoretic transport.


Transungual passive and anodal iontophoretic transport experiments of tetraethylammonium ion (TEA) were conducted under symmetric conditions in which the donor and receiver had the same ionic strength in vitro. Experiments under asymmetric conditions were performed to mimic the in vivo conditions. Prior to the transport studies, TEA uptake studies were performed to assess the partitioning of TEA into the nail.


Permselectivity towards TEA was inversely related to ionic strength in both passive and iontophoretic transport. The permeability and transference number of TEA were higher at lower ionic strengths under the symmetric conditions due to increased partitioning of TEA into the nail. Transference numbers were smaller under the asymmetric conditions compared with their symmetric counterparts.


The results demonstrate significant ionic strength effects upon the partitioning and transport of a cationic permeant in transungual transport, which may be instrumental in the development of transungual delivery systems.

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