Pharmaceutical Research

, 35:228 | Cite as

In Vitro Skin Retention and Drug Permeation through Intact and Microneedle Pretreated Skin after Application of Propranolol Loaded Microemulsions

  • Megan N. Kelchen
  • Nicole K. BrogdenEmail author
Research Paper



Topical beta-blockers are efficacious for treating infantile hemangiomas, but no formulations have been specifically optimized for skin delivery. Our objective was to quantify skin concentrations and drug permeation of propranolol (a nonselective beta-blocker) after application of microemulsions to intact and microneedle pretreated skin.


Four propranolol-loaded microemulsions were characterized for droplet size, surface charge, conductivity, pH, drug solubility, and drug release. Skin concentrations and drug permeation through skin were quantified using LC-MS. Skin-to-receiver ratios were used to compare the microemulsion formulations to a drug-in-PBS solution.


Propranolol solubility was significantly greater in microemulsions vs PBS. Cumulative drug release from the microemulsions over 24 h ranged from 13 to 26%. Skin concentrations and drug permeation through intact skin was significantly higher from PBS; however, the skin-to-receiver ratios were significantly higher for water-rich microemulsions compared to PBS or surfactant-rich microemulsions. Microneedle pretreatment significantly increased skin concentrations for all formulations. Skin-to-receiver ratios significantly increased after microneedle pretreatment for surfactant-rich microemulsions.


Microemulsion formulation can be altered to elicit different drug delivery profiles through MN-treated skin. This could be advantageous for maximizing local skin drug concentrations and improving dosing schedules for infantile hemangioma treatment.


infantile hemangioma microemulsion microneedle propranolol skin 



Enhancement ratio


Infantile hemangioma





This work was supported by NIH grant R35GM124551.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutical Science and Experimental TherapeuticsUniversity of Iowa College of PharmacyIowaUSA
  2. 2.Department of DermatologyUniversity of Iowa Carver College of MedicineIowaUSA

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