Development of Flavanone and Its Derivatives as Topical Agents Against Psoriasis: The Prediction of Therapeutic Efficiency Through Skin Permeation Evaluation and Cell-Based Assay

Int J Pharm. 2020 May 15;581:119256. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2020.119256. Epub 2020 Mar 24.


Flavonoids inhibit skin inflammation. Previous study suggests that the flavonoids with flavanone backbone were beneficial to penetrate into the skin. We aimed to investigate the possibility of psoriasis treatment by topically applied flavanone and its derivatives including naringenin, hesperetin, 6-hydroxyflavanone, flavanone, and 6-bromoflavone. The skin absorption of the compounds was determined by Franz cells. Molecular modeling was used to compute the physicochemical and molecular parameters of the penetrants in order to elucidate the correlation between structure and permeation. Among the compounds tested, flavanone showed the greatest skin absorption. The in vitro skin absorption predicted efficient skin targeting of 6-bromoflavone with minimal risk of circulation absorption. The permeation of naringenin was remarkably enhanced 13-fold in the barrier-defective skin mimicking inflamed skin. The penetrants with fewer hydrogen bond number, total polarity surface, and molecular volume were advantageous for facile skin absorption. In the cell-based study, IL-1β inhibition in imiquimod (IMQ)-stimulated keratinocytes was increased following the increase in compound lipophilicity. Naringenin, a flavanone analog with three hydroxyl moieties, could suppress IL-6 overexpression to baseline control. We assessed the anti-inflammatory potency of the chemicals in comparison with tacrolimus as reference in a psoriasis-like mouse model. Flavanone was found to mitigate scaling and epidermal hyperplasia at a higher level than naringenin. Flavanone lessened IL-6 overexpression by 80% in the psoriasiform plaque. The skin barrier function recorded by transepidermal water loss (TEWL) was recovered by naringenin but not flavanone. The experimental data indicate that naringenin and flavanone are potential candidates for anti-psoriatic therapy.

Keywords: Flavanone; Keratinocyte; Naringenin; Psoriasis; Quantitative structure-permeation relationship; Skin absorption.