Background: Overcoming the skin barrier to achieve the transdermal penetration of
drugs across the Stratum Corneum (SC) remains a significant challenge. Our previous study
showed that Fu’s Cupping Therapy (FCT) contributes to the transdermal enhancement and percutaneous
absorption rate of representative drugs and improves their clinical effects. This work evaluated
the transdermal enhancement effect of FCT on drugs with different Molecular Weights (MW).
Methods: We investigated the enhancements in the transdermal penetration of eight types of model
drugs through the skin of BALB/c-nu mice and Sprague Dawley rats using Franz diffusion devices.
In addition, 3% azone, 5% azone, 3% peppermint oil, and 5% peppermint oil were used as penetration
enhancers to study the transdermal behaviour of these drugs.
Results: Our results showed that the BALB/c-nu mouse skin was the best transdermal media, and
the optimal time for FCT was 10 min. Compared with other penetration enhancers, FCT exerted a
significantly improved effect on enhancing the percutaneous penetration of the selected log(P)-
model drugs in addition to the two large MW drugs (ginsenoside Rg1 and notoginsenoside R1). Statistical
analysis revealed that the relationship between the log(P) of various model drugs and the
permeability coefficient [log(Pcm)] of the FCT group was log(Pcm)=0.080(log(P))2-0.136
Conclusion: FCT may be used as a novel method for enhancing physical penetration and thus effectively
promoting the transdermal absorption of drugs and might lay a foundation for future research
on drug transdermal technology.