Background/purpose: In recent years, microneedles were proposed as a method to painlessly deliver drugs past the stratum corneum. Microneedles have been fabricated in several designs, but limited studies have tested microneedle injections in humans. In this work, we compare microneedle injections with topical application (TA) to investigate if microneedles enhance in vivo drug delivery past the stratum corneum.
Method: In vitro tests were used to measure microneedle pressures and injection volumes. In vivo microneedle injections were performed on the volar forearm of 11 healthy volunteers. Two sets of microneedles, pointed and symmetric, were used to develop microneedle/syringe apparatuses that were used to inject approximately 1 μL of 0.1 M methyl nicotinate, and were compared against TA. A Laser Doppler Perfusion Monitor was used to record maximum blood flow and the time to maximum blood flow at the treatment sites.
Results: Pointed and symmetric microneedle-injected sites showed a significantly faster time to maximum blood flow than TA. The pointed microneedle injections also resulted in a higher maximum blood flux. Volunteers reported feeling pressure but no pain from the microneedles during the injections.
Conclusion: The microneedles aid in bypassing the stratum corneum and enhance drug delivery through it. The design of the microneedle influences its delivery capabilities, because the pointed microneedles seem to be less susceptible to clogging during the injection.