The aim of the present study was to investigate transfersomes as a transdermal delivery system for the poorly soluble drug, sertraline, in order to overcome the troubles associated with its oral delivery. Different transfersomal formulations were prepared with non-ionic surfactant (span 80), soya lecithin, and carbopol 940 by the rotary evaporation sonication method. The prepared formulations were characterized for light microscopy, particle size analysis, drug entrapment, turbidity, drug content, rheological studies, in vitro release, ex vivo permeation, and stability studies. The optimized formulation was evaluated for in vivo studies using the modified forced swim model test. FTIR studies showed compatibility of the drug with excipients. The result revealed that sertraline in all of the formulations was successfully entrapped with uniform drug content. Transfersomal gel containing 1.6% of the drug and 20% of span 80 was concluded to be the optimized formulation (EL-SP4), as it showed maximum drug entrapment (90.4±0.15%) and cumulative percent drug release(73.8%). The ex vivo permeation profile of EL-SP4 was compared with the transfersomal suspension, control gel, and drug solution. The transfersomal gel showed a significantly higher (p<0.05) cumulative amount of drug permeation and flux along with lower lag time than the drug solution and drug gel. It also owed to better applicability due to the higher viscosity imparted by the gel rather than the transfersomal suspension, and no skin irritation was observed. The modified forced swim test in mice revealed that the transfersomal gel had better antidepressant activity as compared to the control gel. Thus, the study substantiated that the transfersomal gel can be used as a feasible alternative to the conventional formulations of sertraline with advanced permeation characteristics for transdermal application.
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