Microstructure evaluation of dermally applicable liquid crystals as a function of water content and temperature: Can electron paramagnetic resonance provide complementary data?
Insight into the microstructure of lyotropic liquid crystals (LCs) is of crucial importance for development of novel dermal delivery systems. Our aim was to evaluate the phase behaviour of dermally applicable LCs composed of isopropyl myristate/Tween 80/lecithin/water, along the dilution line, where phase transitions are predominantly driven by increased water content. Additionally, identification of LC temperature dependence is of great importance for skin application. Selected LCs were evaluated using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) plus conventionally used methods of polarization microscopy, small-angle X-ray scattering, differential scanning calorimetry, and rheological measurements. Depending on water content, LCs formed diverse microstructures, from (pseudo)hexagonal (LC1) and lamellar (LC2-LC7) liquid crystalline phases that possibly co-exist with rod-like micelles (LC4-LC7), to a transitional micellar phase (LC8). Furthermore, the LCs microstructure remained unaltered within the tested temperature range. EPR was shown to detect microstructural transitions of LCs and to provide complementary data to other techniques. These data thus confirm the applicability of EPR as a complementary technique for better understanding of LC microstructural transitions that are expected to contribute greatly to studies oriented towards the drug release characteristics from such systems.