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J Dermatol Sci. 2010 Feb;57(2):83-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jdermsci.2009.12.005. Epub 2010 Jan 8.

Targeting to the hair follicles: current status and potential.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Grunwaldzka 6, 60-780 Poznan, Poland.


The pilosebaceous unit is a complex structure that undergoes a specific growth cycle and comprises a few important drug targeting sites. For example, drugs can be targeted to the bulge region with stem cells or to the sebaceous glands. Interest in pilosebaceous units is directed towards their utilization as reservoirs for localized therapy and also as a transport pathway for systemic drug delivery. Improved investigative methods, such as differential stripping, are being developed in order to determine follicular penetration. This article reviews relevant aspects of effective follicle-targeting formulations and delivery systems as well as the activity status of hair follicles, and variations in follicle size and distribution throughout various body regions. Each of these factors strongly affects follicular permeation. We provide examples of improved penetration of particle-based formulations and of a size-dependent manner of follicular penetration. Contradictions are also discussed, indicating the need for detailed future investigations.

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