It is still not clear whether intact lipid vesicles can cross the human skin. Some
reports in the literature indicate that transfersomes® can cross the skin. Other reports suggest
that intact liposomes cannot cross the skin. Of course, the composition of the various formulations
has to be taken into consideration before making such assertions. The present review
examines the use of vesicles- elastic liposomes and ethosomes- for transdermal drug delivery.
Liposomes are micro- or nano-structures formed from a bilayer of lipid surrounding an
aqueous core. Elastic liposomes differ from conventional liposomes because they contain
edge activators (surfactants) which impart elasticity and deformability. Ethosomes are efficient
in facilitating percutaneous drug penetration. They are structurally similar to conventional
liposomes in the sense that they are prepared from phospholipids but different because
they contain a high concentration of ethanol. Both elastic liposomes and ethosomes are increasingly
being used for delivering low and high molecular weight drugs. In this review,
several reports are presented showing the usefulness of these vesicles and mechanistic insight sought as to why
they may be effective in certain cases.
Keywords: Elastic liposomes, ethosomes, transdermal, dermal, vesicles.
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