Transdermal delivery of tetrahydrocannabinol

Elka Touitou*, Boris Fabin, Sanda Dany, Shlomo Almog

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The skin permeation behavior of a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is described for the first time. In the design of transdermal delivery systems, Δ8-THC was chosen over Δ9-THC due to the former's better stability and its lower psychotropic potency. Sk permeation kinetic parameters were established through rat and human skin in vitro. The rat skin was found to be about 13-fold more permeable to Δ8-THC than the human skin. Autoradiographs showed that 24 h after application the drug was concentrated in the stratum corneum, in the upper epidermis, and around the hair follicles, indicating that THC penetrates the skin through the lipophilic pathways. A transdermal formulation containing oleic acid as a permeation enhancer was tested in rats. A serum level of about 50 ng/ml cross-reacting cannabinoids (THC + metabolites) was maintained for about 24 h, indicating a sustained delivery of THC to the bloodstream. The transdermal preparation presented in this study is designed for future clinical studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-15
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiemetic
  • Skin autoradiograph
  • Skin permeation
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Transdermal delivery


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