Original Paper

European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 36, Issue 8, pp 1049-1058

First online:

Follow-up of drug permeation through excised human skin with confocal Raman microspectroscopy

  • Ali TfayliAffiliated withMeDIAN Unit, CNRS UMR 6142, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Reims Champagne Email author 
  • , Olivier PiotAffiliated withMeDIAN Unit, CNRS UMR 6142, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Reims Champagne
  • , Franck PitreAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmaceutical Development, Formulation laboratory, Galderma R & D
  • , Michel ManfaitAffiliated withMeDIAN Unit, CNRS UMR 6142, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Reims Champagne

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Skin is a multilayered organ which covers and protects the surface of human body by providing a barrier function against exogenous agents. Meanwhile, the efficacy of several topically applicated drugs is directly related to their penetration through the skin barrier. Several techniques are commonly used to evaluate the rate, the speed and the depth of penetration of these drugs, but few of them can provide real-time results. Therefore, the use of nondestructive and structurally informative techniques permits a real breakthrough in the investigations on skin penetration at a microscopic scale. Confocal Raman microspectroscopy is a nondestructive and rapid technique which allows information to be obtained from deep layers under the skin surface, giving the possibility of a real-time tracking of the drug in the skin layers. The specific Raman signature of the drug enables its identification in the skin. In this study, we try to follow the penetration of Metronidazole, a drug produced by Galderma as a therapeutic agent for Rosacea treatment, through the skin. The first step was the spectral characterization of Metronidazole in the skin. Then micro-axial profiles were conducted to follow the penetration of the drug in the superficial layers, on excised human skin specimens. For more accurate information, transverse sections were cut from the skin and spectral images were conducted, giving information down to several millimeters deep. Moreover, the collected spectra permit us to follow the structural modifications, induced by the Metronidazole on the skin, by studying the changes in the spectral signature of the skin constituents.


Confocal Raman microspectroscopy Drug penetration Metronidazole Skin