Mechanisms of chemical and physical transdermal penetration enhancement

  • Burrinder S. Grewal

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The underlying theme of this thesis is one of exploring the processes involved in the enhancement of percutaneous absorption. The development of an attenuated total reflectance Fourier-Transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopic method to analyse diffusion of suitable topically applied compounds in membrane is described. Diffusion coefficients (D/h2) and membrane solubility (AO) for topically applied compounds were determined using a solution to Fick's second law of diffusion. This method was employed to determine the diffusional characteristics of a model permeant, 4-cyanophenol (CP), across silicone membrane as a function of formulation applied and permeant physicochemical properties. The formulations applied were able to either affect CP diffusivity and/or its membrane solubility in the membrane; such parameters partially correlated with permeant physicochemical properties in each formulation. The interplay during the diffusion process between drug, enhancer and vehicle in stratum corneum (SC) was examined. When enhancers were added to the applied formulations, CP diffusivity and solubility were significantly enhanced when compared to the neat propylene glycol (PG) application. Enhancers did not affect PG diffusivity in SC but enhancers did affect PG solubility in SC. PG diffusion closely resembled that of CP, implying that the respective transport processes were inter-related. Additionally, a synergistic effect, which increases CP diffusivity and membrane solubility in SC, was found to occur between PG and water. Using 12-azidooleic acid (AOA) as an IR active probe for oleic acid, the simultaneous penetration of CP, AOA and PG into human stratum corneum was determined. It was found that the diffusion profiles for all three permeants were similar. This indicated that the diffusion of each species through SC was closely related and most likely occurred via the same route or SC microenvironment.
Date of Award1999
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBill Irwin (Supervisor)


  • Mechanisms
  • chemical
  • physical
  • transdermal penetration enhancement

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