Skin-targeting microscale medical devices are becoming popular for therapeutic delivery and diagnosis. We used cryo-SEM, fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM), autofluorescence imaging microscopy and inflammatory response to study the puncturing and recovery of human skin ex vivo and in vivo after discretised puncturing by a microneedle array (Nanopatch®). Pores induced by the microprojections were found to close by ~25% in diameter within the first 30 min, and almost completely close by ~6 h. FLIM images of ex vivo viable epidermis showed a stable fluorescence lifetime for unpatched areas of ~1000 ps up to 24 h. Only the cells in the immediate puncture zones (in direct contact with projections) showed a reduction in the observed fluorescence lifetimes to between ~518–583 ps. The ratio of free-bound NAD(P)H (α1/α2) in unaffected areas of the viable epidermis was ~2.5–3.0, whereas the ratio at puncture holes was almost double at ~4.2–4.6. An exploratory pilot in vivo study also suggested similar closure rate with histamine administration to the forearms of human volunteers after Nanopatch® treatment, although a prolonged inflammation was observed with Tissue Viability Imaging. Overall, this work shows that the pores created by the microneedle-type medical device, Nanopatch®, are transient, with the skin recovering rapidly within 1–2 days in the epidermis after application.
- Drug delivery
- Histamine sensitisation, FLIM
- Metabolic lifetime
- Pore lifetime
- Skin, 3D confocal microscopy