The investigation of drug penetration into the stratum corneum (SC) by tape-stripping requires an accurate measure of the amount of SC on each tape-strip in order to determine the depth inside the SC. This study applies infrared densitometry (IR-D) to in vitro tape-stripping using the novel Squame Scan® 850A. The device had recently been shown to provide accurate measurements of the SC depth for tape-stripping in vivo. Furthermore, the suitability of IR-D for determining the endpoint of tape-stripping, i.e. complete SC removal, was tested. The SC depth was computed from the IR-D data of sequential tape-strips and compared to the results of a protein assay as gold standard. IR-D provided accurate depth results both for freshly excised skin and for skin stored frozen for up to 3 months. In addition, the lower limit of quantification of IR-D indicates the complete removal of the SC (less than 5% of the total SC remaining) and can be used for adjusting the number of tapes applied in situ. Therefore, IR-D is an accurate, fast and non-destructive method for SC depth determination.

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