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Mechanism of transdermal permeation promotion of lipophilic drugs by ethosomes

Authors Yang L, Wu L, Wu D, Shi D, Wang T, Zhu X

Received 14 February 2017

Accepted for publication 3 April 2017

Published 26 April 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 3357—3364


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Linlin Sun

Li Yang,1,* Lifang Wu,1,* Dongze Wu,2 Deshun Shi,3 Tai Wang,4 Xiaoliang Zhu4

1Department of Dermatology, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, 2Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 3Department of Dermatology, The First People’s Hospital of Foshan, Foshan, 4Department of Dermatology, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Abstract: Ethosomes can promote the penetration of lipophilic drugs into the skin, but the underlying mechanism is still unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the mechanism of transdermal permeation promotion of lipophilic drugs by ethosomes. The formulation of ethosomes was optimized using the Box–Behnken experimental design, in which Rhodamine B and 1-palmitoyl-2-{12-[(7-nitro-2-1,3-benzoxadiazol-4-yl)amino]dodecanoyl}-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine were used to simulate a model lipophilic drug and act as a fluorescent tracer of ethosomal phospholipids, respectively. Liposomes with the same phospholipid concentration and a hydroethanolic solution with the same ethanol concentration were also prepared as controls. The percutaneous progression of the above fluorescent preparations was observed by confocal laser scanning microscopy, and the fluorescence intensity of the images was analyzed. The optimized ethosome formulation consisted of 2.45% yolk phospholipids, 30% ethanol, and 67.55% distilled water. The percutaneous permeation of Rhodamine B in the optimized ethosomes was superior to that in hydroethanolic solution (P<0.05) and liposomes (P<0.05). The ethosomes could penetrate the skin via the percutaneous pathway of the hair follicle and stratum corneum, while during the process of penetration, the vesicles were broken and the phospholipids were retained in the upper epidermis, with the test compounds penetrating gradually. The superior percutaneous penetration of ethosomes was linked to the synergistic effects of their ingredients. The percutaneous pathways of ethosomes included open hair follicles and stratum corneum pathways. In addition, the vesicles might break up during percutaneous penetration in the superficial layer of the skin, allowing the test compounds to keep permeating into the deeper layer alone, while the phospholipid was retained in the upper epidermis.

Keywords: ethosomes, mechanism, percutaneous, confocal laser scanning microscopy, CLSM

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