Human Skin Permeation Studies with PPARγ Agonist to Improve Its Permeability and Efficacy in Inflammatory Processes

Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Nov 28;18(12):2548. doi: 10.3390/ijms18122548.


Rosacea is the most common inflammatory skin disease. It is characterized by erythema, inflammatory papules and pustules, visible blood vessels, and telangiectasia. The current treatment has limitations and unsatisfactory results. Pioglitazone (PGZ) is an agonist of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), a nuclear receptor that regulates important cellular functions, including inflammatory responses. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the permeation of PGZ with a selection of penetration enhancers and to analyze its effectiveness for treating rosacea. The high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method was validated for the quantitative determination of PGZ. Ex vivo permeation experiments were realized in Franz diffusion cells using human skin, in which PGZ with different penetration enhancers were assayed. The results showed that the limonene was the most effective penetration enhancer that promotes the permeation of PGZ through the skin. The cytotoxicity studies and the Draize test detected cell viability and the absence of skin irritation, respectively. The determination of the skin color using a skin colorimetric probe and the results of histopathological studies confirmed the ability of PGZ-limonene to reduce erythema and vasodilation. This study suggests new pharmacological indications of PGZ and its possible application in the treatment of skin diseases, namely rosacea.

Keywords: PPAR-γ; inflammation; limonene; pioglitazone; rosacea; skin permeation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Line
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cyclohexenes / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Limonene
  • PPAR gamma / agonists*
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors / metabolism
  • Pioglitazone
  • Rosacea / drug therapy
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Terpenes / therapeutic use
  • Thiazolidinediones / therapeutic use


  • Cyclohexenes
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • PPAR gamma
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors
  • Terpenes
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Limonene
  • Pioglitazone