Development of galangal essential oil-based microemulsion gel for transdermal delivery of flurbiprofen: simultaneous permeability evaluation of flurbiprofen and 1,8-cineole

Flurbiprofen (FP) is one of the most potent nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with very low bioavailability of approximately 12% following transdermal administration, compared to that after oral administration. This study aimed to deliver FP as a microemulsion (ME) gel by transdermal administration. Galangal essential oil (GEO) was extracted from Rhizoma Alpiniae Officinarum and identified by GC-MS. The most abundant constituent was determined to be 1,8-cineole (52.06%). Compared to azone, GEO was proved to exert significantly higher (p < .01) penetration enhancement effect and significantly (p < .001) lower skin cell toxicity. The formulation (FP-GEO-ME gel) was prepared using GEO as an oil phase and a penetration enhancer. Compared to that of FP solution, the enhancement ratio (ER) of FP-GEO-ME gel was 4.06. In addition, more than 25% 1,8-cineole permeated through the rat skin. In vivo pharmacokinetic studies revealed that the AUC0–t of FP after transdermal administration of FP-GEO-ME gel was higher by approximately 4.56-fold than that of marketed FP cataplasms. The relative bioavailability of FP and 1,8-cineole after transdermal administration compared to oral administration of FP-GEO-ME were determined to be 96.58% and 85.49%, respectively. FP-GEO-ME gel significantly inhibited carrageenan-induced hind-paw edema and decreased PGE2 levels in rat serum. GEO-ME gel also exhibited significant anti-inflammatory effects at 2 h after the therapy (p < .05). The synergistic effects of FP and GEO were expected for the application of FP-GEO-ME gel. In conclusion, GEO-ME gel may be a promising formulation for transdermal administration of anti-inflammatory hydrophobic drugs, such as FP.