Transdermal drug delivery is impeded by the natural barrier of epidermis namely stratum corneum. This limits the route to transport of drugs with a log octanol-water partition coefficient of 1 to 3, molecular weight of less than 500 Da and melting point of less than 200°C. Nanotechnology has received widespread investigation as nanocarriers are deemed to be able to fluidize the stratum corneum as a function of size, shape, surface charges, and hydrophilicity-hydrophobicity balance, while delivering drugs across the skin barrier. This review provides an overview and update on the latest designs of liposomes, ethosomes, transfersomes, niosomes, magnetosomes, oilin- water nanoemulsions, water-in-oil nanoemulsions, bicontinuous nanoemulsions, covalently crosslinked polysaccharide nanoparticles, ionically crosslinked polysaccharide nanoparticles, polyelectrolyte coacervated nanoparticles and hydrophobically modified polysaccharide nanoparticles with respect to their ability to fuse or fluidize lipid/protein/tight junction regimes of skin, and effect changes in skin permeability and drug flux. Universal relationships of nanocarrier size, zeta potential and chemical composition on transdermal permeation characteristics of drugs will be developed and discussed.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.