Transdermal delivery of atorvastatin calcium from novel nanovesicular systems using polyethylene glycol fatty acid esters: Ameliorated effect without liver toxicity in poloxamer 407-induced hyperlipidemic rats

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Atorvastatin calcium (ATV), a cholesterol-lowering agent, suffers from poor systemic availability (14%) after oral administration in addition to other side effects on the gastrointestinal tract, liver and muscle.


The goal of the present investigation was to improve ATV bioavailability and overcome complications attendant with peroral administration by developing a new nanovesicular system encapsulating ATV for its delivery via the transdermal route.


The vesicular systems were prepared by incorporating different polyethylene glycol fatty acid esters such as Labrasol, Cremophor EL, Gelucire 44/14 and Tween 80 as edge activators (EAs) in the lipid bilayer. The effect of the phosphatidylcholine (PC):EA molar ratio on the physicochemical properties of the vesicles was investigated. The pharmacokinetic studies of the optimized formulation were evaluated in rats. The optimized formulation was tested in poloxamer 407-induced hyperlipidemic rats. The plasma lipid profile, activity of liver enzymes, and oxidative stress parameters were measured using commercially available kits.


The results revealed high ATV entrapment efficiency (EE%) ranging from 55.62 to 83.91%. The formulations that contained Labrasol showed the highest EE%. The mean diameter of the vesicles was in the range of 186–583 nm. T8 containing Gelucire 44/14 as an EA in the molar ratio of 15:1 (PC:EA) gave the smallest size and exhibited the best permeation parameters across the skin. The pharmacokinetic studies revealed that about three times statistically significant (p < 0.05) improvement in bioavailability, after transdermal administration of nanotransfersomal ATV gel compared to oral ATV suspension. The transdermal vesicular system exhibited a significant decrease in plasma total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol comparable to oral ATV. Additionally, it lowered the malondialdehyde levels in plasma and abolished the increase in liver enzyme activity.


The results obtained suggest that the proposed transdermal vesicular system can serve as a promising alternative means for delivery of ATV.

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