Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Pharm. 2018 Oct 5;549(1-2):76-86. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2018.07.051. Epub 2018 Jul 24.

Novel skin penetrating berberine oleate complex capitalizing on hydrophobic ion pairing approach.

Author information

Department of Pharmaceutics, Faculty of Pharmacy, Alexandria University, Alexandria 21521, Egypt.
Department of Pharmaceutics, Faculty of Pharmacy, Alexandria University, Alexandria 21521, Egypt. Electronic address:


Berberine hydrochloride (Brb) is a well-known herbal drug that holds a great promise in the recent years thanks to its various pharmacological actions. Currently, Brb is extensively researched as a natural surrogate with evidenced potentiality against numerous types of skin diseases including skin cancer. However, Brb's high aqueous solubility and limited permeability hinder its clinical topical application. In the current work, to enhance Brb's dermal availability, hydrophobic ion pairing approach was implemented combining the privileges of altering the solubility characteristics of Brb and the nanometric size that is usually gained during the ion pairing precipitation process. Sodium oleate (SO) was selected as the complexing agent due to its low toxicity and skin penetrating characteristics. Ion paired berberine oleate complex (Brb-OL) was prepared by simple precipitation technique. Brb-OL complex formation was confirmed by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), infrared spectroscopy (IR), X-ray powder diffraction (XRD) and saturation solubility studies. It was found that Brb-OL complex formed at stoichiometric binding between oleate and Brb had an average particle size of 195.9 nm and zeta potential of -53.6 mV. The proposed Brb-OL showed 251-fold increase in saturation solubility in n-octanol which confirmed the augmented lipid solubility of the complex compared with free drug. Comparative in-vitro release study showed that Brb-OL complex had much slow and sustained release profile compared to that of free Brb. Furthermore, ex-vivo permeation study using rat skin revealed the enhanced skin permeation of ion-paired Brb-OL complex compared with free Brb. In-vivo study on healthy rats confirmed that topical application of hydrogels enriched with Brb-OL had superior skin penetration and deposition than free Brb as revealed by confocal microscope. Conclusively, ion pair formation between Brb and oleate lead to the formation of more lipophilic Brb-OL complex with nanometric particle size which is expected to be a major progressive step towards the development of a topical berberine formulation.


Berberine; Berberine oleate complex; Hydrophobic ion pairing; Skin penetration; Topical application

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center