Microneedle technologies have been developed for dermal drug and vaccine delivery, including hollow-, solid-, coated-, and dissolving microneedles. Microneedles have been made in many different geometries and of many different materials, all of which may influence their skin-penetrating ability. To ensure reproducible and effective drug and vaccine delivery via microneedles, the optimal insertion parameters should be known. Therefore, a digitally-controlled microneedle applicator was developed to insert microneedles into the skin via impact insertion (velocity) or via pressing force insertion. Six microneedle arrays with different geometries and/or materials were applied onto ex vivo human skin with varying velocities or pressing forces. Penetration efficiency and delivered antigen dose into the skin after application of microneedles were determined. In general, microneedles pierced the skin more efficiently when applied by impact application as compared to application via pressing force. However, the angle of application of the applicator on the skin can affect the velocity of the impact, influencing the penetration efficiency of microneedles. Regarding the antigen delivery into the skin, the delivered dose was increasing by increasing the velocity or pressure, and thus, increasing the penetration efficiency. These data demonstrate that an applicator is an important tool to determine optimal application conditions with ex vivo human skin.
Keywords: (trans)dermal drug/vaccine delivery; impact applicator; microneedle arrays; pressing force applicator; skin penetration.