Liposomes, lipid nanocapsules and smartCrystals®: A comparative study for an effective quercetin delivery to the skin

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Quercetin is a flavonoid with strong antioxidant and antiinflammatory activities considered as a potential drug candidate for skin exogenous supplementation. Nevertheless, crude quercetin suffers from poor water solubility and consequently topical inactivity. Therefore, quercetin formulation within a suitable system that overcomes its solubility limitation is a matter of investigation. Three approaches were tested to improve quercetin delivery to skin: liposomes, lipid nanocapsules (LNC) and smartCrystals®. These nanoformulations were compared in terms of average particle size, homogeneity (PDI), quercetin loading and cellular interactions with HaCaT (keratinocytes) and TPH-1 (monocytes) cell lines. Finally, two formulations were selected for testing quercetin delivery to human skin in vivo using stripping test. Different size distribution was obtained with each strategy starting from 26 nm with quercetin LNC, 179 nm with liposomes to 295 nm with quercetin smartCrystals®. The drug loading varied with each formulation from 0.56 mg/ml with liposomes, 10.8 mg/ml with LNC to 14.4 mg/ml with smartCrystals®. No toxicity was observed in HaCaT cells with quercetin and free radical scavenging ability was established at 5 µg/ml. The safety of quercetin at 5 µg/ml was further confirmed on THP-1 cells with efficient free radical scavenging ability. Finally, skin penetration evidenced different behavior between the two selected forms (LNC and SmartCrystals®), which could lead to different promising strategies for skin protection. On one side, quercetin smartCrystals® seems to enable the superficial deposition of quercetin on top of the skin, which presents a good strategy for a quercetin-based sunscreen product. On the other side, LNC seems to allow quercetin delivery to viable epidermis that holds the promise for skin inflammatory disorders such as psoriasis.




Hatahet, T., Morille, M., Hommoss, A., Devoisselle, J. M., Müller, R. H., & Bégu, S. (2018). Liposomes, lipid nanocapsules and smartCrystals®: A comparative study for an effective quercetin delivery to the skin. International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 542(1–2), 176–185.

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