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Introduction: For the past four decades, liposomes have been developed as transdermal delivery carriers in various drugs. There are several vesicle types, including transfersomes, ethosomes, flexosomes, invasomes, menthosomes and transinvasomes. The intrinsic properties of these vesicles depended on their compositions. The aim of this study was to design and develop the different vesicle formulations for the transdermal delivery of curcumin. Methods: Curcumin loaded vesicles containing a controlled amount of phospholipid, cholesterol, curcumin and various amounts of penetration enhancers (Tween 20 and terpene) were prepared by using a sonication method. The physicochemical characteristics of vesicle formulations (e.g., vesicle size, size distribution, zeta potential and entrapment efficiency) were investigated. The effect of penetration enhancers on the intercellular lipid microstructure was also determined by the Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Results: The vesicle size of all formulations was below 50 nm with narrow size distribution and negative zeta potential. The entrapment efficiency of flexosomes and invasomes was significantly higher than what is found in conventional liposomes. FTIR-spectra and DSC thermogram indicated that the penetration enhancers might result in the fluidity of the skin. Conclusion: These results indicated that Tween 20 and terpene affected the physicochemical characteristics of the vesicle formulations. Flexosomes and invasomes are the optimal vesicle formulations that may be used as transdermal delivery carriers for curcumin.
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