Needle-free cutaneous delivery of living human cells by Er:YAG fractional laser ablation

Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2018 Jun;15(6):559-566. doi: 10.1080/17425247.2018.1472570. Epub 2018 May 23.


Background: Dermatological diseases, including most skin cancers and rare genetic conditions frequently originate in the epidermis. Targeted, topical cell-based therapy is a promising therapeutic strategy. Here, we present the first report demonstrating that fractional laser ablation enables local 'needle-free' intraepidermal delivery of living human cells.

Methods: The cells penetrated porcine ear skin via microchannels created by Er:YAG fractional laser ablation; cell delivery was quantified using a haemocytometer. Cutaneous distribution was confirmed visually by laser scanning confocal microscopy and histological analysis.

Results: Total cell delivery (sum of amounts permeated and deposited) after 24 h increased from 5.7 ± 0.1 x105 to 9.6 ± 1.6 x105 cells/cm2 when increasing pore density from 300 to 600 pores/cm2, - corresponding to 19- and 32-fold increases over the control. At 600 pores/cm2, cell deposition was 136-fold greater than cell permeation - the latter most likely due to transport from micropores into appendageal pathways. Production of GFP post-delivery confirmed cell remained viability.

Conclusion: The results demonstrate the feasibility of using controlled laser microporation to achieve local 'needle-free' cutaneous delivery of living human cells to the epidermis and dermis. This raises the possibility of using this technique for targeted new approaches for dermatological therapy in these regions.

Keywords: Er:YAG laser; Topical delivery; cell therapy; epidermis; fractional laser ablation; living cells; skin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Animals
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy / methods*
  • Epidermal Cells / cytology*
  • Epidermis / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lasers, Solid-State / therapeutic use*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Skin / cytology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy
  • Swine