Selegiline percutaneous absorption in various species and metabolism by human skin

Pharm Res. 1997 Jan;14(1):50-5. doi: 10.1023/a:1012051300130.


Purpose: A Selegiline Transdermal System (STS) is under development for indications which may not be optimally or safely treated with oral selegiline. Studies were conducted to evaluate the in vitro penetration and skin metabolism of selegiline in order to better understand the toxicological findings and the observed plasma levels of selegiline and its metabolites in animals and man.

Methods: In vitro penetration studies were conducted in four different species (male hairless mice, male and female rats, female dog and male Micropig) and compared to human skin. In another study, viable human skin was used to estimate the extent of metabolism of selegiline by human skin using Franz diffusion cells.

Results: Results indicated that female dog and male Micropig skin were reasonable animal models for 24 hour in vitro selegiline penetration through human skin. Penetration of selegiline through rat skin and hairless mouse skin was 2-fold and 3-fold higher than through human skin, respectively. Metabolism was negligible in human skin. Selegiline metabolites (L-methamphetamine and N-desmethylselegiline but not L-amphetamine) were detected at all time points but the extent of selegiline metabolism was negligible. The cumulative 24 hour in vitro selegiline permeation from a 1.83 mg/cm2 STS through human skin was 5.0 mg. This was similar to the in vivo permeation in humans as assessed by residual patch analysis.

Conclusions: The similarity of dog and human skin permeation results support the use of the dog as a species for evaluating the toxicology of transdermally-administered selegiline. Selegiline is not metabolized cutaneously and hence the metabolic profile following STS administration is likely due to hepatic metabolism only.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Hairless
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Selegiline / metabolism*
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Skin Absorption*
  • Species Specificity
  • Swine
  • Swine, Miniature


  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Selegiline