Strategies to improve drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier

Clin Pharmacokinet. 2007;46(7):553-76. doi: 10.2165/00003088-200746070-00002.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB), together with the blood-cerebrospinal-fluid barrier, protects and regulates the homeostasis of the brain. However, these barriers also limit the transport of small-molecule and, particularly, biopharmaceutical drugs such as proteins, genes and interference RNA to the brain, thereby limiting the treatment of many brain diseases. As a result, various drug delivery and targeting strategies are currently being developed to enhance the transport and distribution of drugs into the brain. In this review, we discuss briefly the biology and physiology of the BBB as the most important barrier for drug transport to the brain and, in more detail, the possibilities for delivering large-molecule drugs, particularly genes, by receptor-mediated nonviral drug delivery to the (human) brain. In addition, the systemic and intracellular pharmacokinetics of nonviral gene delivery, together with targeted brain imaging, are reviewed briefly.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism
  • Pharmacokinetics


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations