Dissolving microneedles made from natural polymers recently have gained much attention as an efficient transdermal drug delivery system (TDDS). For the first time, ulvan, a sulfated polysaccharide extracted from Ulva lactuca, was applied to fabricate dissolving microneedles through a two-step casting method. The ulvan microneedles (UMNs) made from 4% ulvan solution were in a pyramidal shape with an average height of 655 μm and an aspect ratio of 2.63. The in vitro skin insertion study showed the UMNs could totally penetrate into the porcine skin to the dermis layer and rapidly dissolved as the needle height was reduced by 90.3% after post-insertion of only 2 min. The rapid dissolution of UMNs in situ thus could release the loaded model drugs of rhodamine 6G (R6G) and bovine serum albumin–fluorescein isothiocyanate conjugate (FITC-BSA) in the skin tissue. The in vitro drug release profiles through porcine skin revealed the UMNs markedly enhanced the cumulative release of FITC-BSA. In addition, the UMNs had good biocompatibility towards normal cells of HaCaT and NIH3T3. Briefly, this study demonstrates the rapidly dissolving UMNs could effectively carry the drug into skin and thus can be developed as a potential TDDS in the pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical fields.
International Journal of Biological Macromolecules 207, p.90-99