Modeling the human skin barrier--towards a better understanding of dermal absorption

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2013 Feb;65(2):152-68. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2012.04.003. Epub 2012 Apr 14.


Many drugs are presently delivered through the skin from products developed for topical and transdermal applications. Underpinning these technologies are the interactions between the drug, product and skin that define drug penetration, distribution, and elimination in and through the skin. Most work has been focused on modeling transport of drugs through the stratum corneum, the outermost skin layer widely recognized as presenting the rate-determining step for the penetration of most compounds. However, a growing body of literature is dedicated to considering the influence of the rest of the skin on drug penetration and distribution. In this article we review how our understanding of skin physiology and the experimentally observed mechanisms of transdermal drug transport inform the current models of drug penetration and distribution in the skin. Our focus is on models that have been developed to describe particular phenomena observed at particular sites of the skin, reflecting the most recent directions of investigation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Skin Absorption*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations