Chemical and physical methods of enhancing the percutaneous absorption of antimicrobial agents
The underlying theme of this study is to enhance the permeation of a antimicrobial agent in the skin by employing chemical (enhancers and supersaturated systems) or physical (iontophoresis) techniques. The hydrochloride salt of chlorhexidine (CHX), a poorly soluble salt, was used throughout this study. The effect of ionisation on in vitro permeation rate across the excised human epidermis was investigated using Franz-type diffusion cells. Saturated solutions of CHX were used as donor and the variable studied was vehicle pH. Permeation rate was increased with increasing vehicle pH. The pH effect was not related to the level of ionisation of the drug. The effect of donor vehicle was also studied using saturated solutions of CHX in 10% and 20% ethanol as the donor solutions. Permeation of CHX was enhanced by increasing the concentration of ethanol which could be due to the higher concentration of CHX in the donor phase and the effect of ethanol itself on the membrane. The interplay between drug diffusion and enhancer pretreatment of the epidermis was studied. Pretreatment of the membrane with 10% Azone /PG demonstrated the highest diffusion rate followed by 10% oleic acid/PG pretreatment compared to other pretreatment regimens (ethanol, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), propylene glycol (PG), sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) and dodecyl trimethyl ammonium bromide (DTAB). The potential of supersaturated solutions in enhancing percutaneous absorption of CHX was investigated. Various anti-nucleating polymers were screened in order to establish the most effective agent. Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP, K30) was found to be a better candidate than its lower molecular weight counterpart (K25) and hyroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC). The permeation studies showed an increase in diffusion rate by increasing the degree of saturation.