Effect of Lipid Vehicles on Solubility, Stability, and Topical Permeation of Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the most effective antinociceptive agents used in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy. THC is highly lipophilic and susceptible to thermal and oxidative degradation. Identifying appropriate solvents in which THC is stable as well as adequately solubilized is crucial in developing topical dosage forms. Lipid solvent systems are of utmost utility and relevance for formulating highly lipophilic drugs. Hence, the objective of this project was to screen the solubility of THC in lipidic excipients, monitor THC content in the selected vehicles during stability, and study the influence of these excipients on permeation of THC across skin.

The solubility of THC in liquid lipid excipients was in the range of 421 to 500 mg/g. The solubility of THC in solid lipid excipients was in the range of 250 to 750 mg/g. THC in its neat form was poorly stable, but when dissolved in lipid-based excipients, its stability improved significantly. THC in lipid excipients was more stable at 4 ± 3°C compared to samples stored at 25 ± 2°C. The antioxidants (butylated hydroxytoluene and ascorbyl palmitate) used in the excipients further improved the stability of THC. The results demonstrated that the liquid and solid lipid excipients used in the study could solubilize THC freely and mitigate the degradation of THC significantly. The binary combination of lipid excipients enhanced THC skin permeation and retention, demonstrating the potential for topical formulation development of THC.

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Excipients mentioned in the study besides other: Transcutol P, Labrasol, Labrafil M, Capyrol PGMC, Labrafac Lipophile

Shankar, V.K., Shettar, A., Rangappa, S. et al. Effect of Lipid Vehicles on Solubility, Stability, and Topical Permeation of Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol. AAPS PharmSciTech 23, 223 (2022).

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