Iontophoresis itself on hairless mouse skin induces the loss of the epidermal calcium gradient without skin barrier impairment

Seung Hun Lee, Eung Ho Choi, Kenneth R. Feingold, Shaojun Jiang, Sung Ku Ahn

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Iontophoresis increases the delivery of drugs across the stratum corneum, but the pathway by which ionized drugs transit the stratum corneum is unknown. In this study we examined the effect of iontophoresis on the skin barrier and the epidermal calcium gradient. Hairless mice were subjected to iontophoresis for 5-120 min and skin specimens were prepared for electron microscopy. Neither positive nor negative iontophoresis affected transepidermal water loss. Lacunar dilatation and partial distention of the intercellular layers of the stratum corneum were observed in rough proportion to applied time in iontophoresis skin as well as control skin. Additionally, using calcium capture cytochemistry, we demonstrated that both positive and negative iontophoresis caused the disappearance of the epidermal calcium gradient with marked decrease in calcium content in the upper epidermis. Positive iontophoresis was associated with increased calcium in the stratum basale and dermis, whereas negative iontophoresis increased calcium in the stratum corneum. Moreover, as previously shown after barrier disruption and sonophoresis, the decrease in calcium content in the upper epidermis was associated with an increase in lamellar body secretion and the build up of lamellar material at the stratum corneum-stratum granulosum interface. In conclusion, iontophoresis on the skin of hairless mice may induce the change of ionized molecules in the epidermis, as the loss of the calcium gradient, which causes the decrease of skin impedence, gives charged drugs the ability to cross the skin more easily. Also, the structural changes, such as lacunar dilatation, whether they result from hydration or occlusion, may help the transport of charged drugs across the stratum corneum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-43
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998 Jan 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology

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