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Int J Pharm. 2005 Aug 11;299(1-2):41-8.

In vitro percutaneous absorption studies and in vivo evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of essential fatty acids (EFA) from fish oil extracts.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Catania, Viale A.Doria no. 6, 95125 Catania, Italy.


The aim of the present study was to evaluate the in vitro percutaneous absorption and the in vivo anti-inflammatory activity of EPA and DHA fatty acids from three oily extracts, obtained by acetonic extractions from the entrails of different varieties of Mediterranean fishes such as mackerel (Scomber scombrus), sardine (Sardina pilchardus) and horse mackerel (Trachurus mediterraneus). In the first part of our research, we focused our attention on the characterization of the oily extracts to determine their omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid content, then, we evaluated the in vitro percutaneous absorption through excised human skin (stratum corneum/epidermis membranes; SCE) of EPA and DHA contained in the extracts. In the second part, the fish oil which guaranteed the best in vitro permeation profile of these omega-3 fatty acids was studied in order to evaluate its inhibiting ability towards the in vivo UVB-induced skin erythema. From the results obtained, all the fish oils tested in this study presented significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, and particularly sardine oil extract showed higher concentrations of these substances compared to the other two fish oils. The in vitro experiments revealed interesting fluxes of these compounds from sardine extract through the stratum corneum/epidermis membranes and an appreciable anti-inflammatory activity against UVB-induced erythema in human volunteers was also observed.

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