Lipophilic penetration enhancers and their impact to the bilayer structure of stratum corneum lipid model membranes: neutron diffraction studies based on the example oleic acid.
ABSTRACT The present study analyzes the effect of the lipophilic penetration enhancer oleic acid on the bilayer structure of stratum corneum (SC) lipid model membranes based on Ceramide AP by using the neutron diffraction technique. Our results indicate the formation of a single lamellar phase in the presence of oleic acid under the chosen experimental conditions; a separated fluid-like oleic acid-rich phase was not detected in the present study. By comparing the internal membrane structure received from Fourier synthesis with the model system lacking oleic acid, considerable structural changes in terms of impairment of the lamellar order were found after incorporation of the penetration enhancer into the bilayers. In addition, by using specifically deuterated oleic acid we were able to prove the integration of the enhancer molecules into the model bilayers and moreover, to determine the exact position of oleic acid inside the SC lipid model membrane. From the present results we conclude a strong perturbation of lamellar SC lipid arrangement due to the intercalated penetration enhancer which can account for the promoting effects on drug penetration across the SC known for oleic acid.