AAPS PharmSciTech

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 354–363 | Cite as

Effect of Hydrocarbon Chain Length in 1,2-Alkanediols on Percutaneous Absorption of Metronidazole: Toward Development of a General Vehicle for Controlled Release

  • Nan Li
  • Weibu Jia
  • Yan Zhang
  • Michelle C. Zhang
  • Fengping TanEmail author
  • Jerry ZhangEmail author
Research Article


The objective of the present study is to investigate the effect of hydrocarbon chain length in 1,2-alkanediols on percutaneous absorption of metronidazole (MTZ). Twelve formulations (1,2-propanediol, 1,2-butanediol, 1,2-pentanediol, 1,2-hexanediol in 4% concentration, 1,2-hexanediol, and 1,2-heptanediol in 1% concentration, in the absence and presence of 1,4-cyclohexanediol, respectively) were studied in an in vitro hairless mouse skin model using Franz diffusion cell. Based on the flux values and retardation ratios (RR), a penetration retardation effect on percutaneous absorption of MTZ was observed for the formulations containing 1,2-diols having six- to seven-carbon chain in the presence of 1,4-cyclohexanediol (1,2-hexanediol with chain length of six hydrocarbons, RRs are 0.69 and 0.76 in the concentration of 4% and 1%, respectively; 1,2-heptanediol with chain length of seven hydrocarbons, RR is 0.78 in the concentration of 1%). On the other hand, no retardation effect was observed in formulations containing short alkyl chains (RRs of 1,2-propanediol, 1,2-butanediol, and 1,2-pentanediol are 0.99, 1.61, and 0.96, respectively). Instead, a penetration enhancement effect was observed for 1,2-diols having four and five carbons. In other words, effect of 1,2-alkanediols on percutaneous absorption of MTZ can be systematically modulated by simply varying number of –CH2 groups in the hydrocarbon chain—from being a penetration enhancer to retardant. These observations shed light on mechanism of the penetration enhancement and retardation effect and provide insight into rational design of penetration enhancers and retardants. Furthermore, the combination of 1,2-alkanediols and 1,4-cyclohexanediol could become a general vehicle for controlled release of pharmaceutical and cosmetic active ingredients.


1,2-alkanediols controlled release hydrocarbon chain length skin penetration 


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Copyright information

© American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tianjin Key Laboratory of Drug Delivery & High-Efficiency, School of Pharmaceutical Science and TechnologyTianjin UniversityTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Vassar CollegePoughkeepsieUSA
  3. 3.Zyleris PharmaTechLake BluffUSA

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