Int J Mol Sci 2020 Mar 24;21(6). Epub 2020 Mar 24.
Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and Prevention, Master Course in Cosmetic Sciences, University of Ferrara, Via Luigi Borsari 46, 44121 Ferrara, Italy.
Cutaneous stem cells, gained great attention in the field of regenerative medicine as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of skin and hair disorders and various types of skin cancers. Cutaneous stem cells play a key role in several processes like the renovation of skin structures in the condition of homeostasis and after injuries, the hair follicle growth and the reconstruction and production of melanocytes. Thus, gaining effective access to skin stem cells for therapeutic interventions that often involve active molecules with non-favorable characteristics for skin absorption is a valuable achievement. The topical route with high patient compliance and several other benefits is gaining increasing importance in basic and applied research. However, the major obstacle for topical drug delivery is the effective barrier provided by skin against penetration of the vast majority of exogenous molecules. The research in this field is focusing more and more on new strategies to circumvent and pass this barrier effectively. In this article the existing approaches are discussed considering physical and chemical methods along with utilization of novel drug delivery systems to enhance penetration of drugs to the skin. In particular, attention has been paid to studies finalized to the delivery of molecules to cutaneous stem cells with the aim of transferring signals, modulating their metabolic program, inducing physiological modifications and stem cell gene therapy.