Journal Mobile Options
Table of Contents
Vol. 20, No. 1, 2007
Issue release date: December 2006
Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol 2007;20:10–20

In vitro Percutaneous Absorption and in vivo Stratum Corneum Distribution of an Organic and a Mineral Sunscreen

Mavon A. · Miquel C. · Lejeune O. · Payre B. · Moretto P.
aLaboratoire de Pharmacocinétique Cutanée, Institut de Recherche Pierre Fabre, Castanet-Tolosan, bCentre de Microscopie Electronique Appliquée à la Biologie, Faculté de Médecine de Rangueil, Toulouse, et cCentre d’Etudes Nucléaires de Bordeaux-Gradignan, Gradignan, France

Individual Users: Register with Karger Login Information

Please create your User ID & Password

Contact Information

I have read the Karger Terms and Conditions and agree.

To view the fulltext, please log in

To view the pdf, please log in


Sunscreens, whose main function is to protect the skin against the harmful effects of solar irradiation, should remain at the skin surface or impregnate the first layers of the stratum corneum only and not penetrate into the underlying living tissue. The goal of this work was to assess the penetration of titanium dioxide (TiO2) and methylene bis-benzotriazoyl tetramethylbutylphenol (MBBT), included in a broad-spectrum sunscreen formulation, into human skin in vivo, using the tape stripping method, and in vitro, using a compartmental approach. An additional objective was to propose an easy and minimally invasive approach to determining the percutaneous uptake of sunscreens following topical application. TiO2 and MBBT were quantified using colorimetric assay and HPLC analysis, respectively. The transmission electron microscopy and particle-induced X-ray emission techniques were used to localize the TiO2 in skin sections.More than 90% of both sunscreens was recovered in the first 15 tape strippings. In addition we have shown that the remaining 10% did not penetrate the viable tissue, but was localized in the furrows and in the opened infundibulum. Less than 0.1% of MBBT was detected in the receptor medium, and no TiO2 was detected in the follicle, viable epidermis or dermis. Thus, this in vivo and in vitro penetration study showed an absence of TiO2 penetration into the viable skin layers through either transcorneal or transfollicular pathways and negligible transcutaneous absorption of MBBT. However, differences in distribution within the stratum corneum reinforced the need for a complementary approach, using minimally invasive in vivo methodology and in vitro compartmental analysis.This combination represents a well-adapted method for testing the safety of topically applied sunscreen formulations in real-life conditions.

Copyright / Drug Dosage

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.


  1. Potard G, Laugel A, Schaefer H, Marty JP: The stripping technique: in vitro absorption and penetration of five UV filters on excised fresh human skin. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol 2000;13:336–344.
  2. Benech-Kieffer F, Wegrich P, Schwarzenbach R, Klecak G, Weber T, Leclaire J, Schaefer H: Percutaneous absorption of sunscreens in vitro: interspecies comparison, skin models and reproducibility aspects. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol 2000;13:324–335.
  3. Pflücker F, Hohenberg H, Holze E, Will T, Pfeiffer S, Wepf R, Diembeck W, Weck H, Gers-Barlag H: The outermost stratum corneum layer is an effective barrier against dermal uptake of topically applied micronized titanium dioxide. Int J Cosmet Sci 1999;21:399–411.
  4. Shulz J, Hohenberg H, Pflücker F, Gartner E, Will T, Pfeiffer S, Wepf R, Wendel V, Gers-Barlag H, Wittern KP: Distribution of sunscreens on skin. Adv Drug Deliv Rev 2002;54:S157–S163.

    External Resources

  5. Lademann J, Weigmann HJ, Rickmeyer C, Barthelemes H, Schaefer H, Mueller G, Sterry W: Penetration of titanium dioxide microparticles in a sunscreen formulation into the horny layer and the follicular orifice. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol 1999;12:247–256.
  6. Tan MH, Commens CA, Burnett L, Snitch PJ: A pilot study on the percutaneous absorption of microfine titanium dioxide from sunscreens. Aust J Dermatol 1996,37:185–187.
  7. Weigmann HJ, Lademann J, Meffert H, Schaefer H, Sterry W: Determination of the horny layer profile by tape stripping in combination with optical spectroscopy in the visible range as a prerequisite to quantify percutaneous absorption. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol 1999;12:34–45.
  8. Benech-Kieffer F, Meuling WJA, Leclerc C, Roza L, Leclaire J, Nohynek J: Percutaneous absorption of Mexoryl SX in human volunteers: comparison with in vitro data. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol 2003;16:343–355.
  9. Chatelain E, Gabard B, Surber C: Skin penetration and sun protection factor of five UV filters: effect of the vehicle. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol 2003;16:28–35.
  10. Moretto P, Surleve-Bazeille JE, Licu D, Michelet C, Stoedzel P: Microanalysis of the human skin structure: preliminary results. Nucl Instr Meth B 1999;158:386–392.
  11. Menzel F, Reinert T, Vogt J, Butz T: Investigations of percutaneous uptake of ultrafine TiO2 particles at the high-energy ion nanoprobe LIPSION. Nucl Instr Meth B 2004;219/220:82–86.

    External Resources

  12. Salvador A, Pascual-Marti MC, Adell JR, Requini A, March JG: Analytical methodologies for atomic spectrometric determination of metallic oxides in UV sunscreen creams. J Pharm Biomed Anal 2000;22:301–306.
  13. Bara M, Guiet-Bara A, Moretto P: The use of nuclear microprobe in biology and medicine. Cell Mol Biol 1996;42:i.
  14. Franz TJ, Lehman PA, McGuire EL: In vivo method for the assessment of percutaneous absorption in man; in Zatz JL (ed): Skin Permeation: Fundamentals and Applications. Wheaton, Allured 1993, pp 73–92.
  15. Diembeck W, Grimmert A: Percutaneous absorption/penetration in in vitro excised pig skin. Cosmetic ingredients: guidelines for percutaneous absorption/penetration. Brussels, COLIPA, 1995, pp 24–31.
  16. Cambon M, Issachar N, Castelli D, Robert D: An in vivo method to assess the photostability of UV filters in a sunscreen. J Cosmet Sci 2001;52:1–11.
  17. Diridollou S, Vabre S, Berson M, Vaillant L, Black D, Lagarde JM, Grégoire JM, Gall Y, Patat F: Skin ageing: changes of physical properties of human skin in vivo. Int J Cosmet Sci 2001;23:353–362.

    External Resources

  18. Gontier E, Barberet P, Barbotteau Y, Rosdy M, Habchi C, Hunyadi J, Incerti S, Kiss B, Mavon A, Moretto P, Pouthier P, Surlève-Bazeille JE, Ynsa MD: Micro-PIXE characterization of different skin models. X-Ray Spectrom 2005;34:381–388.
  19. Pflücker F, Wendel V, Hohenberg H, Gärtner E, Will T, Pfeiffer S, Wepf R, Gers-Barlag H: The human stratum corneum layer: an effective barrier against dermal uptake of different forms of topically applied micronised titanium dioxide. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol 2001;14(suppl 1):92–97.

    External Resources

  20. Jung CT, Wickett RR, Desai PB, Bronaugh RL: In vitro and in vivo percutaneous absorption of cathecol. Food Chem Toxicol 2003;41:885–895.
  21. Cnubben NHP, Elliott G, Hakkert BC, Meuling WJA, van de Standt JJM: Comparative in vitro-in vivo percutaneous penetration of the fungicide orthophenylphenol. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 2002;35:198–208.
  22. Treffel P, Gabard B: Skin permeation and sun protection factor of UV filters from two vehicles. Pharm Res 1996;13:770–774.
  23. Teichmann A, Jacobi U, Weigmann HJ, Sterry W, Lademann J: Reservoir function of the stratum corneum: development of an in vivo method to quantitatively determine the stratum corneum reservoir for topically applied substances. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol 2005;18:75–80.
  24. Lademann J, Schanzer S, Richter H, Pelchrzim RV, Zastrow L, Golz K, Sterry W: Sunscreen application at the beach. J Cosmet Dermatol 2004;3:62–68.

Pay-per-View Options
Direct payment This item at the regular price: USD 38.00
Payment from account With a Karger Pay-per-View account (down payment USD 150) you profit from a special rate for this and other single items.
This item at the discounted price: USD 26.50