• skin;
  • penetration enhancers;
  • 1,8-cineole;
  • pooling


Penetration enhancers are chemicals that temporarily and reversibly diminish the barrier function of the outermost layer of skin, the stratum corneum, to facilitate drug delivery to and through the tissue. In the current study, the complex mechanisms by which 1,8-cineole, a potent terpene penetration enhancer, disrupts the stratum corneum barrier is investigated using post-mortem skin samples. In order to validate the use of excised tissue for these and related studies, a fibre optical probe coupled to an FT-Raman spectrometer compared spectroscopic information for human skin recorded from in vivo and in vitro sampling arrangements. Spectra from full-thickness (epidermis and dermis) post-mortem skin samples presented to the spectrometer with minimal sample preparation (cold acetone rinse) were compared with the in vivo system (the forearms of human volunteers). No significant differences in the Raman spectra between the in vivo and in vitro samples were observed, endorsing the use of post-mortem or surgical samples for this investigational work. Treating post-mortem samples with the penetration enhancer revealed some unexpected findings: while evidence for enhancer-induced disruption of the barrier lipid packing in the stratum corneum was detected in some samples, spectra from other samples revealed an increase in lipid order on treatment with the permeation promoter. These findings are consistent with phase-separation of the enhancer within the barrier lipid domains as opposed to homogeneous disruption of the lipid lamellae. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.