, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 87-91

Penetration and distribution of α-tocopherol, α- or γ-tocotrienols applied individually onto murine skin

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To evaluate skin penetration of various vitamin E homologs, a 5% solution of either α-tocopherol, α-tocotrienol, or γ-tocotrienol in polyethylene glycol was topically applied to SKH-1 hairless mice. After 0.5, 1, 2, or 4 h (n=four per time point and four per vitamin E homolog), the skin was washed, the animals killed, the skin rapidlly removed, frozen on dry ice, and a biopsy taken and sectioned: stratum corneum (two uppermost, 5-μm sections—SC1 and SC2), epidermis (next two 10μm sections—E1 and E2), papillary dermis (next 100μ, PD), dermis (next 400 μm, D), and subcutaneous fat (next 100 μm, SF). SC1 contained the highest vitamin E concentrations per μ thickness. To compare the distribution of the various vitamin E forms into the skin layers, the percentage of each form was expressed per its respective total. Most surprising was that the largest fraction of skin vitamin E following topical application was found in the deeper subcutaneous layers—the lowest layers, PD (40±15%) and D (36±15%), contained the major portion of the applied vitamin E forms. Although PD only represents about 16% of the total skin thickness, it contains sebaceous glands—lipid secretory organs, and, thus, may account for the vitamin E affinity for this layer. Hence, applied vitamin E penetrates rapidly through the skin, but the highest concentrations are found in the uppermost 5 microns.