A combination of iontophoresis and the chelating agent 1,10 phenanthroline act synergistically as penetration enhancers

Rhonda M. Brand, Tracy L. Hannah, Frederick G. Hamel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The peroxovanadium compound VO(O2)2 1,10 phenanthroline (bpV(phen)) is capable of lowering blood glucose levels. It is not available in oral form, but it is effective when delivered transdermally. Iontophoresis can significantly reduce the lag time of this response in vivo when compared with passive penetration. To better mimic in vivo insulin release, we explored the effects of various iontophoretic current durations on dermal penetration of bpV(phen). Iontophoretic transport was not related to total applied charge, as steady-state flux was equivalent for current durations ranging from 15 minutes to 9 hours. We hypothesized that the unexpectedly large transport after just 15 minutes of current was caused by an increase in passive penetration of bpV(phen) induced by iontophoresis. Iontophoretic pretreatment with the chelating agent 1,10 phenanthroline increased passive penetration of bpV(phen), whereas neither the nonchelating isomer 1,7 phenanthroline nor the less potent chelator EDTA were effective. The use of 1,10 phenanthroline as a penetration enhancer for other chemicals was examined with the amino acids alanine and leucine. Fifteen minutes of 1,10 phenanthroline iontophoresis enhances alanine transport 11.4-fold over passive, whereas the 1,7 phenanthroline increased transport by a factor of 4.6 and the iontophoretic control of ethanol by 1.9. Surprisingly, phenanthroline did not enhance 3H leucine penetration. The reasons for this selectivity are not clear and warrant further investigation. Overall, the data suggest that chelating agents, specifically 1,10 phenanthroline, may be used as penetration enhancers for the delivery of certain compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalAAPS PharmSci
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


  • Diabetes
  • Iontophoresis
  • Skin
  • Transdermal
  • Vanadium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


Dive into the research topics of 'A combination of iontophoresis and the chelating agent 1,10 phenanthroline act synergistically as penetration enhancers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this