Low toxicity, reverse thermal gelation and high drug loading capabilities suggest that poloxamer 407 gels have great potential as a topical drug delivery system. Kojic acid (KA) is an antimelanogenic agent which has been widely used in cosmetics to whiten the skin color. However, it has the drawbacks of skin irritancy due to its acidic pH. Poloxamer gels of different polymer contents were formulated to overcome the problem and compared to the cream type formulations of either w/o/w multiple emulsion cream or o/w type emulsion cream. Using Franz diffusion cells mounted with a synthetic cellulose membrane (MWCO 12,000), drug release characteristics of the formulations were evaluated by the HPLC assay of KA concentration in the receptor compartment of pH 7.4 phosphate buffered saline solutions. Drug release from w/o/w multiple emulsion cream was controlled by oil membrane, showing the apparent zero order release kinetics. The KA release from the poloxamer gels was also controlled by the gel matrix, showing that drug release increased linearly as KA contents increase, but decreased exponentially as the polymer contents increase. In the skin irritancy test, the primary irritancy index(PII) of poloxamer gel base was lower than those of multiple emulsion cream base and o/w cream. Depending on KA contents or polymer contents in the gel. PH values in poloxamer gels were ranged from 1.3 to 2.0, which are interpreted as low or negligible irritation on skin. There was a good correlation between the log value of flux in drug release and PII value in skin irritation. It was possible to conclude that the poloxamer gels containing KA might be a good candidate for an antimelanogenic topical delivery system by virtue of the controlled release of the drug and the reduced skin irritancy.
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