Solid lipid nanoparticles (SLN) designed for topical administration of econazole nitrate (ECN), were prepared by o/w high-shear homogenization method using different ratios of lipid and drug (5:1 and 10:1). SLN were characterized in terms of particle size, morphology, encapsulation efficiency and crystalline structure. After incorporation of SLN into hydrogels, rheological measurements were performed, and ex-vivo drug permeation tests were carried out using porcine stratum corneum (SC). In-vivo study of percutaneous absorption of ECN as a function of application time and composition of gels was carried out by tape-stripping technique. Penetration tests of the drug from a conventional gel were performed as comparison. High-shear homogenization method resulted in a good technique for preparation of ECN-loaded SLN. Particles had a mean diameter of about 150 nm and a regular shape and smooth surface. The encapsulation efficiency values were about 100%. Ex-vivo tests showed that SLN were able to control the drug release through the SC; the release rate depended upon the lipid content on the nanoparticles. In-vivo studies demonstrated that SLN promoted a rapid penetration of ECN through the SC after 1 h and improved the diffusion of the drug in the deeper skin layers after 3 h of application compared with the reference gel.
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