Drug delivery by means of transdermal patches raised great interest as a non-invasive and sustained therapy. The present research aimed to design a patch for transdermal delivery of melatonin, which was encapsulated in polycaprolactone (PCL) nanoparticles (NPs) by employing flash nanoprecipitation (FNP) technique. Melatonin-loaded PCL nanoparticles were successfully prepared with precise control of the particle size by effectively tuning process parameters. The effect of process parameters on the particle size was assessed by dynamic light scattering for producing particles with suitable size for transdermal applications. Quantification of encapsulated melatonin was performed by mean of UV spectrophotometry, obtaining the estimation of encapsulation efficiency (EE%) and loading capacity (LC%). An EE% higher than 80% was obtained. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) analysis of NPs was performed to confirm effective encapsulation in the solid phase. Cotton fabrics, functionalized by imbibition with the nano-suspension, were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy to check morphology, adhesion and distribution of the NPs on the surface; melatonin transdermal release from the functionalized fabric was performed via Franz’s cells by using a synthetic membrane. NPs were uniformly distributed on cotton fibres, as confirmed by SEM observations; the release test showed a continuous and controlled release whose kinetics were satisfactorily described by Baker–Lonsdale model.
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