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Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 2001;14 Suppl 1:72-81.

Modulation of the barrier function of the skin.

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Medway Sciences, NRI University of Greenwich, Chatham Maritime, UK.


Transport of xenobiotics across the stratum corneum, the rate-controlling membrane of skin, is slow and the mechanism appears complex. However, the basic transfer is controlled by fundamental physicochemical concepts, the predominant of which are partition (K), diffusion (D) and solubility (C(s)). In order to change the rate of penetration it is therefore clear that it is these parameters that should be targeted. In most instances enhancement strategies are adopted to improve D, K or C(s), however there are instances in which permeation reduction may be beneficial. Examples include the topical application of sunscreens or insect repellents. This publication demonstrates the way in which modulation effects can be assessed and the difficulties involved in determining which of the physicochemical parameter(s) are being affected. If the formulation influences more than one, synergism can often be seen. Advances in computer modelling have provided an insight into the mechanisms of action of some of the chemical enhancers at a molecular level. Enhanced skin absorption has been reported for the delivery of macromolecules such as insulin (associated with transfersomes) or DNA (as a DOTAP complex). The barrier property of the skin must be modulated for this to be achieved. However the precise mechanisms of action have not been elucidated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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