Co-delivery of evodiamine and rutaecarpine in a microemulsion-based hyaluronic acid hydrogel for enhanced analgesic effects on mouse pain models

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The aim of this study was to improve the analgesic effect of evodiamine and rutaecarpine, using a microemulsion-based hydrogel (ME-Gel) as the transdermal co-delivery vehicle, and to assess hyaluronic acid as a hydrogel matrix for microemulsion entrapment. A microemulsion was formulated with ethyl oleate as the oil core to improve the solubility of the alkaloids and was loaded into a hyaluronic acid-structured hydrogel. Permeation-enhancing effects of the microemulsion enabled evodiamine and rutaecarpine in ME-Gel to achieve 2.60- and 2.59-fold higher transdermal fluxes compared with hydrogel control (p < 0.01). The hyaluronic acid hydrogel-containing microemulsion exhibited good skin biocompatibility, whereas effective ME-Gel co-delivery of evodiamine and rutaecarpine through the skin enhanced the analgesic effect in mouse pain models compared with hydrogel. Notably, evodiamine and rutaecarpine administered using ME-Gel effectively down-regulated serum levels of prostaglandin E2, interleukin 6, and tumor necrosis factor α in formaldehyde-induced mouse pain models, possibly reflecting the improved transdermal permeability of ME-Gel co-delivered evodiamine and rutaecarpine, particularly with hyaluronic acid as the hydrogel matrix.

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