An immunohistological study of anhydrous topical ascorbic acid compositions on ex vivo human skin


  • Geoffrey K Heber MBBS, MBA,

  • Boban Markovic PhD,

  • Amanda Hayes PhD

Geoffrey Heber, MBBS, MBA, Heber Davis 37 Bay St Broadway, New South Wales 2007, E-mail:


Background  Ascorbic acid has numerous essential and beneficial functions in normal and photoaged skin. Ionisation of ascorbic acid in aqueous topical formulations leads to oxidative degradation. Ascorbic acid in an anhydrous vehicle would inherently have greater stability.

Objective  The objective of this study was to observe the effects of two anhydrous formulations containing microfine particles of ascorbic acid on neocollagenesis and cytokeratin production in ex vivo human skin.

Methods  Vitamin C preparations were applied topically onto the surface of freshly excised human abdominal skin. Following an exposure time of 48 h with appropriate controls, skin discs were cut into sections, placed on slides and assessed using immunohistochemical (antibodies: collagen type I, III, cytokeratin) staining. Analysis was performed using microscopy and descriptive rating.

Results  Both formulations resulted in increased production of collagen types I and III and cytokeratin.

Conclusion  The application of anhydrous formulations containing microfine particles of ascorbic acid to ex vivo human skin in this study resulted in neocollagenesis and increased production of cytokeratin. This approach appears to enable biological effects of ascorbic acid in the skin using a vehicle which would provide it greater stability than an aqueous vehicle.