Hydrogel-mediated topical delivery of steroids can effectively alleviate psoriasis via attenuating the autoimmune responses†
Psoriasis is a systemic, relapsing, and chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease of the skin. Topical use of betamethasone, a glucocorticoid, in the form of creams is a common treatment for psoriasis. However, topical use of these creams is challenging due to the ineffective entrapment of steroids, burst release of the entrapped drugs, poor skin permeability, and high toxicity. Herein, we present the engineering of a betamethasone-loaded topical hydrogel (B-Gel) that can efficiently entrap steroids with high spreadability, and can also maintain the sustained release of drugs. We used an imiquimod (IMQ) induced ear psoriasis model, and demonstrated that topical application of B-Gel can mitigate the autoimmune inflammation reactions, and leads to a reduction in erythema, induration, scaling, and ear thickness. As interleukin 17 (IL-17) secreting T helper 17 (Th17) cells and γδ+ T cells are responsible for psoriasis, B-Gel treatment witnessed a reduction in the infiltration of leukocytes, CD4+ T cells, Th17 T cells, and dermal γδ+ T cells. We further demonstrated that B-Gel mediated reduction of IL-1β, IL-17, and K16 (marker for keratinocyte proliferation) is responsible for alleviation of psoriasis. Therefore, the non-greasy nature of the hydrogel with a cooling effect provides an alternative for topical application of steroids.