Cutaneous Metabolism of Nitroglycerin in Vitro. II. Effects of Skin Condition and Penetration Enhancement

Naruhito Higo, Robert S. Hinz, David T.W. Lau, Leslie Z. Benet, Richard H. Guy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of skin storage, skin preparation, skin pretreatment with a penetration enhancer, and skin barrier removal by adhesive tape-stripping on the concurrent cutaneous transport and metabolism of nitroglycerin (GTN) have been studied in vitro using hairless mouse skin. Storing the skin for 10 days at 4°C did not alter barrier function to total nitrate flux [GTN + 1,2-glyceryl dinitrate (1,2-GDN) + 1,3-glyceryl dinitrate (1,3-GDN)]. However, metabolic function was significantly impaired and suggested at least fivefold loss of enzyme activity. Heating skin to 100°C for 5 min appreciably damaged hairless mouse skin barrier function. The ability to hydrolyze GTN was still present, however, and remained constant over the 10-hr experimental period, in contrast to the “control,” which showed progressively decreasing enzymatic function with time. Pretreatment of hairless mouse skin in vivo (prior to animal sacrifice, tissue excision, and in vitro transport/metabolism studies) with 1-dodecylazacyclo-heptan-2-one (Azone), a putative penetration enhancer, significantly lowered the skin barrier to nitrate flux (relative to the appropriate control). Again, barrier perturbation resulted in essentially constant metabolic activity over the observation period. The ratio of metabolites formed (1,2-GDN/1,3-GDN) was increased from less than unity to slightly above 1 by the Azone treatment. Adhesive tape-stripping gradually destroyed skin barrier function by removal of the stratum corneum. The effects of 15 tape-strips were identical to those of Azone pretreatment: a greatly enhanced flux, a constant percentage formation of metabolites over 10 hr (once again), and an increase in the 1,2-GDN/1,3 GDN ratio. Overall, the experiments caution that, for transdermal drug delivery candidates susceptible to skin metabolism, the status of barrier function (enhancer pretreated, skin damage or disease, etc.) may significantly affect systemic availability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-306
Number of pages4
JournalPharmaceutical Research: An Official Journal of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 1992


  • Azone
  • cutaneous metabolism
  • nitroglycerin
  • penetration enhancer
  • transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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