Exploiting M cells for drug and vaccine delivery

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2001 Aug 23;50(1-2):81-106. doi: 10.1016/s0169-409x(01)00149-1.


The specialised antigen sampling M cells represent an efficient portal for mucosal drug and vaccine delivery. Delivery may be achieved using synthetic particulate delivery vehicles including poly(DL-lactide-co-glycolide) microparticles and liposomes. M cell interaction of these delivery vehicles is highly variable, and is determined by the physical properties of both particles and M cells. Delivery may be enhanced by coating with reagents including appropriate lectins, microbial adhesins and immunoglobulins which selectively bind to M cell surfaces. Live attenuated microorganisms are also suitable as vaccines and mucosal vectors and many, including Salmonella typhimurium, innately target to M cells. After cell surface adhesion, delivery vehicles are rapidly transported across the M cell cytoplasm to underlying lymphoid cells and may subsequently disseminate via the lymphatics. Further definition of M cell development and function should permit exploitation of their high transcytotic capacity for safe and reliable mucosal delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Mucous Membrane / cytology
  • Mucous Membrane / metabolism
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*
  • Vaccines / metabolism*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Vaccines