Transdermal penetration of physostigmine: Effects of oleic acid enhancer

Yacov Meshulam, Tamar Kadar, Ada Wengier, Shlomit Dachir, Aharon Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The efficiency of the transdermal penetration of physostigmine through the guinea‐pig skin, in a vehicle containing propionic acid, was studied in the course of developing a transdermal physostigmine pad for the potential treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients. In an attempt to improve drug penetration, the addition of various concentrations of oleic acid(0.5–5%) was tested. The study included histological examination of skin biopsies from application site. The addition of 0.5% oleic acid to the vehicle enhanced the permeation of physostigmine and shortened the time needed to reach steady state levels of blood cholinesterase inhibition, without any damage to the skin. Stable values of physostigmine concentration and of cholinesterase inhibition were measured both in blood and in brain up to 72 h. A high correlation was found between physostigmine concentration in the plasma and cholinesterase inhibition in whole blood samples (r = 0.99 for the values measured up to 48 h). A lower correlation was found between physostigmine concentration and cholinesterase inhibition in the brain (r = 0.57). In a vehicle containing up to 1% oleic acid, physostigmine was stable for at least one month. Oleic acid concentrations higher than 1%, while increasing the flux of the drug through the skin, resulted in considerable skin damage. © Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-515
Number of pages6
JournalDrug Development Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • drug delivery
  • penetration enhancer
  • skin morphology


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