lontophoretic Delivery of Amino Acids and Amino Acid Derivatives Across the Skin in Vitro

Philip G. Green, Robert S. Hinz, Christopher Cullander, Grace Yamane, Richard H. Guy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of penetrant properties (lipophilicity and charge) and of vehicle pH on the iontophoretically enhanced delivery of amino acids and their N-acetylated derivatives have been examined in vitro. The penetrants were nine amino acids (five were zwitterionic, two positively charged, and two negatively charged) and four N-acetylated amino acids, which carry a net negative charge at pH 7.4. Iontophoresis at constant current (0.36 mA/cm2), using Ag/AgCl electrodes, was conducted across freshly excised hairless mouse skin. Iontophoretic flux of the zwitterions was significantly greater than passive transport. Delivery from the anode was greater than from the cathode for all zwitterions. The level of enhancement was inversely proportional to permeant octanol/pH 7.4 buffer distribution coefficient. Cathodal iontophoresis of the negatively charged amino acids and of the N-acetylated derivatives produced degrees of enhancement which were significantly greater than those measured for the “neutral” zwitterions. Furthermore, the enhanced flux reached a steady-state level within a few hours for the negatively charged species, whereas the transport of the zwitterions continued to increase with time. Anodal iontophoresis of histidine and lysine, the two positively charged amino acids studied, induced substantial enhancement which was sensitive to the pH of the delivery vehicle. For example, the flux of histidine from an applied solution at pH 4 (where the amino acid carries a net positive charge) was significantly greater than that from a vehicle at pH 7.4 (where histidine is essentially neutral). The behavior of lysine was more complex and suggested a certain degree of neutralization of the skin's net negative charge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1120
Number of pages8
JournalPharmaceutical Research: An Official Journal of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 1991


  • amino acid delivery
  • iontophoresis
  • percutaneous penetration enhancement
  • skin barrier function
  • transdermal drug delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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