Determinants of drug delivery and transport to solid tumors

J Control Release. 2001 Jul 6;74(1-3):31-46. doi: 10.1016/s0168-3659(01)00308-x.


This presentation addresses the barriers and determinants and the importance of drug-induced apoptosis in drug transport and delivery to organs and solid tumors. In particular, we examined the roles of interstitial space, drug removal by capillaries, tissue structure and tissue composition on drug distribution. Drug transport in bladder tissues is described by the distributed model which combined monodimensional Fickian diffusion and first order removal of drug by the perfusing blood. Microscopic evaluation of the spatial drug distribution in bladder, prostate and tongue indicates heterogeneous drug distribution with large and erratic concentration gradient. In general, drug distribution favors interstitial space and vasculature, with little penetration in muscles. Drug penetration into 3-dimensional solid tumors is typically 5- to 10-fold slower than in monolayer cultures. The transport of highly protein-bound drugs such as paclitaxel and doxorubicin in a solid tumor is retarded by a high tumor cell density and enhanced by drug-induced apoptosis. Accordingly, the delivery of a highly protein-bound drug to cells in a solid tumor is affected by its apoptotic effects and is therefore determined by the drug concentration and the treatment duration, i.e. treatment schedule. Under in vitro and in vivo conditions, the delivery of highly protein-bound drugs to tumor can be enhanced by using a pretreatment that induces apoptosis and reduction in cell density, and by using treatment schedules designed to take advantage of these drug-induced changes in tumor tissue composition. In conclusion, in addition to the usual processes involved in drug transport such as distribution through vascular space, transport across microvessel walls, and diffusion through interstitial space in tumor tissue, other factors including tissue structure and composition and alteration by drug-induced apoptosis are important determinants of drug distribution in organs and solid tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Antineoplastic Agents