In vitro selection and efficacy of topical skin protectants against the nerve agent VX

Toxicol In Vitro. 2009 Apr;23(3):539-45. doi: 10.1016/j.tiv.2009.01.008.


Against highly toxic chemicals that are quickly absorbed in the skin, topical formulations could adequately complement specific protective suits and equipments. In this work, we evaluated in vitro and compared the skin protection efficacy against the nerve agent VX of four different topical formulations: oil-in-water and water-in-oil emulsions, a perfluorinated-based cream and a hydrogel. Semi-permeable silicone membrane, pig-ear and human abdominal split-thickness skin samples mounted in diffusion cells were compared as in vitro permeation tests. The results showed that silicone membrane could be used instead of skin samples to screen for potentially effective formulations. However, the results indicated that due to potentially significant interactions between formulations and skin, relevant ranking of formulations according to their protective efficacy could require tests with skin samples. The main phase of emulsions, water or oil, was not found to be critical for skin protective efficacy against VX. Instead, specific film-forming ingredients such as perfluorinated-based polymers and silicones could significantly affect the skin protective efficacy of formulations. We showed that a hydrogel containing specific hydrophilic polymers was by far the most effective of the formulations evaluated against VX skin permeation in vitro.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Animals
  • Chemical Warfare Agents / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / chemistry
  • Hydrogels / classification
  • Hydrogels / pharmacology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Neuroprotective Agents / chemistry
  • Neuroprotective Agents / classification
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Organothiophosphorus Compounds / toxicity*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Silicones / chemistry
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Swine


  • Chemical Warfare Agents
  • Hydrogels
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Organothiophosphorus Compounds
  • Silicones
  • VX