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Int J Pharm. 2007 Mar 21;333(1-2):10-6. Epub 2006 Oct 1.

Skin permeation enhancement potential of Aloe Vera and a proposed mechanism of action based upon size exclusion and pull effect.

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Welsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3XF, United Kingdom.


The aim of this study was to determine in vitro the potential of Aloe Vera juice as a skin permeation enhancer; a secondary aim was to probe the extent to which Aloe Vera itself permeates the skin. Saturated solutions of caffeine, colchicine, mefenamic acid, oxybutynin, and quinine were prepared at 32 degrees C in Aloe Vera juice and water (control) and used to dose porcine ear skin mounted in Franz diffusion cells with water as receptor phase. Receptor phase samples were taken over a 48 h period and permeants determined by reverse-phase HPLC. For caffeine and mefenamic acid no significant enhancements occurred between Aloe Vera and water as vehicles (p>0.05). However, for colchicine, oxybutynin and quinine the presence of Aloe Vera within the formulation provided enhancements (p < or = 0.05). Enhancement potential was dependent upon the molecular weight of the drug in formulation, with the enhancement effect attributable to as yet unidentified components within the Aloe Vera. Colchicine, with a molecular weight of 399.44, achieved the best enhancement with an enhancement ratio of 10.97. No correlation with lipophilicity was apparent. In a further experiment, where freeze-dried Aloe Vera was reconstituted at 200% residue level, permeation of quinine was 2.8 x that from normal Aloe Vera, providing further evidence for the presence of an enhancing factor within Aloe Vera. Certain, although unidentified, components of Aloe Vera readily permeated skin and the relative amount by which they permeated skin was inversely related to the molecular weight of the drug in solution, thus enhancement ratio. A new mechanistic rationale is proposed whereby larger drug solutes inhibit the permeation of Aloe Vera components, but also are then able to interact more effectively with the enhancing factor and be subject to the pull effect.

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