Effects of relative humidity and ambient temperature on the ballistic delivery of micro-particles to excised porcine skin

J Invest Dermatol. 2004 Mar;122(3):739-46. doi: 10.1111/j.0022-202X.2004.22320.x.


The effectiveness of ballistic particle delivery to the skin is often dependent upon breaching the stratum corneum (SC) and targeting cells within defined layers of the viable epidermis. This paper experimentally determines the influence of relative humidity (RH) and temperature on the ballistic delivery of particles to the skin. Gold particles of radius 0.9+/-0.6 microm were accelerated by a hand-held supersonic device to impact freshly excised porcine skin at 410-665 m per s. Increasing the RH from 15% to 95% (temperature at 25 degrees C) led to a particle penetration increase by a factor of 1.8. Temperature increases from 20 degrees C to 40 degrees C (RH at 15%) enhanced particle penetration 2-fold. In both cases, these increases were sufficient to move the target layer from the SC to the viable epidermis. Relative trends in particle penetration compared well with predictions from a theoretical model well. Calculated absolute penetration depths are 6-fold greater than the measurements. The inversely calculated dynamic yield stress of the SC is up to a factor of 10 higher than reported quasi-static measurements, due to changes in tissue failure modes over a strain-rate range spanning 10 orders of magnitude. If targeted particle delivery is required, it is recommended that the environmental RH and temperature be monitored.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biolistics*
  • Humidity
  • Permeability
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Swine
  • Temperature
  • Vaccines, DNA / administration & dosage


  • Vaccines, DNA