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Br J Dermatol. 2011 Oct;165 Suppl 2:13-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2011.10572.x.

Human hair follicle: reservoir function and selective targeting.

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Department of Dermatology and Allergy, Clinical Research Center for Hair and Skin Science, Charité- Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Charitéplatz 1, D-10117 Berlin, Germany.


Penetration of topically applied compounds may occur via the stratum corneum, skin appendages and hair follicles. The follicular infundibulum increases the surface area, disrupts the epidermal barrier towards the lower parts of the follicle, and serves as a reservoir. Topical delivery of active compounds to specific targets within the skin, especially to distinct hair follicle compartments or cell populations, may help to treat local inflammatory reactions selectively, with reduced systemic side-effects. Various in vitro and in vivo methods exist for studying the hair follicle structure and follicular penetration pathways. These include cyanoacrylate skin surface stripping, confocal microscopy and cyanoacrylate scalp follicle biopsy. The complex anatomical structure as well as the cyclical activity of the hair follicle must be taken into consideration when designing delivery systems. In addition, delivery into and retention inside the infundibular reservoir are controlled by, for example, molecule or particle size, their polarity and the type of preparation. Preferred penetration depth and storage time must also be considered. Particles with release mechanisms should be preferred; however, the release of drugs from nanoparticles still requires further investigations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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