METHODS: 5-fluorouracil-loaded ethosomes were prepared and subjected to size, zeta potential, morphology, drug content, drug release and skin permeation tests. The molecular characteristics of untreated, microwave and/or ethosome-treated skins were examined by Fourier transform infrared and raman spectroscopy, thermal and electron microscopy techniques.
RESULTS: The skin drug retention was promoted using larger ethosomes with negative zeta potentials that repelled anionic lipids of skin and hindered vesicle permeation into deep layers. These ethosomes had low ethanol content. They were less able to fluidize the lipid and defluidize the protein domains at epidermis to enlarge aqueous pores for drug permeation. Pre-treatment of skin by 2450 MHz microwave for 2.5 min further increased skin drug penetration and retention of low ethanol ethosomes and provided lower drug permeation than cases treated for 1.15 min and 5 min. A 2.5 min treatment might be accompanied by specific dermal protein fluidization via C=O moiety which translated to macromolecular swelling, narrowing of intercellular spaces at lower skin layers, increased drug retention and reduced drug permeation.
CONCLUSION: Ethosomes and microwave synergized to promote skin drug retention.