Drug administration to the vaginal site has gained increasing attention in past decades, highlighting the need for reliable in vitro methods to assess the performance of novel formulations. To optimize formulations destined for the vaginal site, it is important to evaluate the drug retention within the vagina as well as its permeation across the mucosa, particularly in the presence of vaginal fluids. Herewith, the vaginal-PVPA (Phospholipid Vesicle-based Permeation Assay) in vitro permeability model was validated as a tool to evaluate the permeation of the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen from liposomal formulations (i.e., plain and chitosan-coated liposomes). Drug permeation was assessed in the presence and absence of mucus and simulated vaginal fluid (SVF) at pH conditions mimicking both the healthy vaginal premenopausal conditions and vaginal infection/pre-puberty/post-menopause state. The permeation of ibuprofen proved to depend on the type of formulation (i.e., chitosan-coated liposomes exhibited lower drug permeation), the mucoadhesive formulation properties and pH condition. This study highlights both the importance of mucus and SVF in the vaginal model to better understand and predict the in vivo performance of formulations destined for vaginal administration, and the suitability of the vaginal-PVPA model for such investigations.
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