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Drug crystallisation in the skin is recognised as a significant problem in topical and transdermal drug delivery. Our recent investigations provided new evidence of drug crystallisation in the skin, however, confirming the precise location of crystals remains challenging. Of note, most approaches used have required disruption of the membrane by tape stripping, with crystal detection limited to the superficial skin layers. Hence, a non-destructive method for complete spatial resolution of crystallised drug in skin is still lacking. In this communication, we report the application of X-ray micro-computed tomography (microCT) to examine drug crystallisation in mammalian skin ex vivo. Permeation studies of a saturated solution of diclofenac sodium were conducted in porcine skin; subsequently, tissue samples were scanned using microCT to generate 2D and 3D maps. A layer of drug crystals was observed on the skin surface; microCT maps also confirmed the distribution of drug crystals up to a skin depth of 0.2 - 0.3 mm. MicroCT also allowed the identification of drug crystallisation as a distinct and confirmed event in the skin and as an extension from drug crystals formed on the skin. These preliminary results confirm the potential of microCT to study this important phenomenon in topical and transdermal drug delivery. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Choon Fu Goh, Daniel O'Flynn, Robert Speller, Majella E Lane. Spatial resolution of drug crystallisation in the skin by X-ray micro-computed tomography. Micron (Oxford, England : 1993). 2021 Jun;145:103045

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PMID: 33689970

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