The aim of the present study was to develop a transdermal system for controlled delivery of melatonin combining three strategies: nanoencapsulation of melatonin, drying of melatonin-loaded nanocapsules, and incorporation of nanocapsules in a hydrophilic gel. Nanocapsules were prepared by interfacial deposition of the polymer and were spray-dried using water-soluble excipients. In vitro drug release profiles were evaluated by the dialysis bag method, and skin permeation studies were carried out using Franz cells with porcine skin as the membrane. The use of 10% (w/v) water-soluble excipients (lactose or maltodextrin) as spray-drying adjuvants furnished redispersible powders (redispersibility index approximately 1.0) suitable for incorporation into hydrogels. All formulations showed a better controlled in vitro release of melatonin compared with the melatonin solution. The best controlled release results were achieved with hydrogels prepared with dried nanocapsules (hydrogels > redispersed dried nanocapsules > nanocapsule suspension > melatonin solution). The skin permeation studies demonstrated a significant modulation of the transdermal melatonin permeation for hydrogels prepared with redispersible nanocapsules. In this way, the additive effect of the different approaches used in this study (nanoencapsulation, spray-drying, and preparation of semisolid dosage forms) allows not only the control of melatonin release, but also transdermal permeation.
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