Picosecond or nanosecond-domain non-ablative lasers generate faster photothermal effects and cause less injury than microsecond lasers. In this study, we investigated the enhancing effect of 1064 nm picosecond-and nanosecond-domain neodymium (Nd):yttrium–aluminum–garnet (YAG) lasers on the cutaneous delivery of cosmeceutical peptides. Microsecond-domain fractional ablative CO2 and fully ablative erbium (Er):YAG lasers were also used for comparison. In the Franz diffusion cell study, pig or mouse skin was treated with a laser before exposure to palmitoyl tripeptide (PT)-1, PT-38, and copper tripeptide (CT)-1 at a concentration of 150 µM. Psoriasiform, atopic dermatitis (AD)-like, and photoaged skins were also developed as permeation barriers. The non-ablative laser elicited the ultrastructural disruption of the stratum corneum and epidermal vacuolation. All laser modalities significantly increased the skin permeation of peptides in vitro. The non-ablative laser chiefly enhanced peptide delivery to the receptor compartment, whereas the ablative laser mainly increased the intracutaneous peptide deposition. The picosecond-and nanosecond-domain Nd:YAG lasers elevated the amount of PT-1 in the receptor up to 40-and 22-fold compared with untreated skin, respectively. Laser treatment promoted peptide delivery in barrier-deficient and inflamed skins, although this enhancement effect was less than that observed in healthy skin. Fluorescence microscopy indicated the capability of the non-ablative laser to deliver peptides to deeper skin strata. The ablative laser confined the peptide distribution in the epidermis. Confocal microscopy showed that peptides penetrated the skin along the microdots created by the fractional Nd:YAG and CO2 lasers. The skin barrier function determined by transepidermal water loss suggested quick recovery when using a nanosecond-domain laser (within 4 h). A longer period was needed for the skin treated with the fully ablative Er:YAG laser (76–84 h). Nanosecond non-ablative laser-facilitated peptide delivery may become an efficient and safe approach for cosmeceutical applications.
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