Human skin not only functions as a permeation barrier (mainly because of the stratum corneum layer) but also provides a unique delivery pathway for therapeutic and other active agents. These compounds penetrate via intercellular, intracellular, and transappendageal routes, resulting in topical delivery (into skin strata) and transdermal delivery (to subcutaneous tissues and into the systemic circulation). Passive and active permeation enhancement methods have been widely applied to increase the cutaneous penetration. The pathology, pathogenesis, and topical treatment approaches of dermatological diseases, such as psoriasis, contact dermatitis, and skin cancer, are then discussed. Recent literature has demonstrated that nanoparticles-based topical delivery systems can be successful in treating these skin conditions. The studies are reviewed starting with the nanoparticles based on natural polymers especially chitosan, followed by those made of synthetic, degradable (aliphatic polyesters), and nondegradable (polyacrylates) polymers; emphasis is given to nanospheres made of polymers derived from naturally occurring metabolites, the tyrosine-derived nanospheres (TyroSpheres™). In summary, the nanoparticles-based topical delivery systems combine the advantages of both the nanosized drug carriers and the topical approach, and are promising for the treatment of skin diseases. For the perspectives, the penetration of ultra-small nanoparticles (size smaller than 40 nm) into skin strata, the targeted delivery of the encapsulated drugs to hair follicle stem cells, and the combination of nanoparticles and microneedle array technologies for special applications such as vaccine delivery are discussed. WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2013, 5:205–218. doi: 10.1002/wnan.1211
Conflict of interest: All authors have no conflict of interest.
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