Mater Today Bio. 2023 Aug 2;22:100756. doi: 10.1016/j.mtbio.2023.100756. eCollection 2023 Oct.
Indigo naturalis (IN) has been extensively used as a topical treatment for psoriasis. However, clinical applications of IN in ointment were hampered by its limited transdermal efficiency and dark stains. To address the aforementioned issues, nanopatches carrying IN were fabricated using poly(ε-caprolactone, PCL)/poly(ethylene oxide, PEO) and topically applied to psoriasiform skin. The ideal ratio of 5% PCL/PEO was established to be 80:20 (w/w), and 15% IN as payload was confirmed. Investigations on the three principal active components of IN release indicated that indirubin and tryptanthrin were released in bursts, while indigo was released in a limited and controlled manner. Further biological analyses confirmed a favorable biocompatibility of amphiphilic IN-PCL/PEO, which coincided with the intended therapeutic outcomes as measured by severity index scoring and pathological evaluations in vivo. The advantages of IN as nanopatches over ointment could be due to improved transdermal distribution of indirubin and tryptanthrin, resulting in effective management of epidermal hyperplasia and blood vessel remodeling. Meanwhile, due to the lower preservation of epidermal indigo, IN-PCL/PEO nanopatches caused no skin coloration. Similarly, during a 4-week topical treatment of IN-PCL/PEO nanopatches, the safety and anti-psoriatic benefits were obtained in an initial human test. The conversion of IN from topical cream to electrospun nanofibers opens up new avenues for bench-to-bedside translation of this herbal therapy and provides mechanistic insight into IN’s roles in the management of psoriasis.