Mathematical modelling of nanoparticle-mediated topical drug delivery to skin tissue

Kevin McLean, Wenbo Zhan* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Nanoparticles have been extensively studied to improve drug delivery outcomes, however, their use in topical delivery remains controversial. Although the feasibility to cross the human skin barrier has been demonstrated in experiments, the risk of low drug concentration in deep tissue still limits the application. In this study, mathematical modelling is employed to examine the performance of nanoparticle-mediated topical delivery for sending drugs into the deep skin tissue. The pharmacokinetic effect is evaluated based on the drug exposure over time. As compared to the delivery using plain drugs, nanoparticle-mediated topical delivery has the potential to significantly improve the drug exposure in deep skin tissue. Modelling predictions denote that the importance of sufficient long-term drug-skin contact in achieving effective drug deposition in the deep skin tissue. The delivery outcomes are highly sensitive to the release rate. Accelerating the release from nanoparticles in stratum corneum is able to improve the drug exposure in stratum corneum and viable epidermis while resulting in the reductions in dermis and blood. The release rate in stratum corneum and viable epidermis should be well-designed below a threshold for generating effective drug accumulation in dermis and blood. A more localised drug accumulation can be achieved in the capillary-rich region of dermis by increasing the local release rate. The release rate in dermis needs to be optimised to increase the drug exposure in the dermis region where there are fewer blood and lymphatics capillaries. Results from this study can be used to improve the regimen of topical delivery for localised treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number121322
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2022


  • Drug transport
  • Localised delivery
  • Mathematical model
  • Nanoparticle
  • Topical delivery


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