Crisaborole, a nonsteroidal phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor, represents the first nonsteroidal medication approved for the treatment of atopic dermatitis in over a decade. In this work, crisaborole skin permeation and retention was studied in vitro from a 2% ointment using porcine skin as barrier. Crisaborole was also characterized in terms of thermal behavior, solubility, and logP. Control experiments were performed also on tape stripped skin to clarify the role of stratum corneum in drug partitioning and permeation across the skin. The results obtained indicate that crisaborole accumulates into the skin in considerable amounts after application of a topical lipophilic ointment. Crisaborole shows more affinity for the dermis compared to the epidermis despite its relatively high value of partition coefficient; stratum corneum analysis revealed a low affinity of the drug for this skin layer. Skin penetration across hair follicles or sebaceous glands can be a reason for the high dermis retention and is worth further investigation. The comparison with data obtained from a solution in acetonitrile suggests that the formulation plays a certain role in determining the relative distribution of crisaborole in the skin layers and in the receptor compartment.
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