Role of metabolism in ocular drug delivery

Curr Drug Metab. 2004 Dec;5(6):507-15. doi: 10.2174/1389200043335342.


Metabolism is one of the primary routes of drug elimination from the body. This process comprises of mechanisms, such as oxidation and conjugation, which lead to inactivation and/or elimination from hepatic, biliary, pulmonary, renal and ocular tissues. Enzymes involved in metabolism are expressed in various tissues of the body, liver being the primary site. Studies involving ocular tissues have demonstrated the expression of several metabolic enzymes such as esterases, peptidases, ketone reductases, and CYP-450's in these tissues. These enzymes play an important role in ocular homeostasis by preventing entry and/or eliminating xenobiotics from the ocular tissues. Scientists have targeted these enzymes in drug design and delivery through prodrug derivatization. The prodrugs undergo biotransformation to the parent drug by ocular enzymatic degradation. This review examines the distribution pattern of various metabolic enzymes in the ocular tissues, their physiological role and utility in targeted prodrug delivery.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Eye / drug effects
  • Eye / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Prodrugs / administration & dosage
  • Prodrugs / pharmacokinetics*


  • Prodrugs