Lipid-based nanocarriers as an alternative for oral delivery of poorly water- soluble drugs: peroral and mucosal routes

Curr Med Chem. 2012;19(26):4495-510. doi: 10.2174/092986712803251584.


The hydrophobic character of most drug molecules and their potential for degradation under the hostile environment of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) constitutes the main obstacle in the development of a successful oral drug delivery system, since these are related to limitations of bioavailability and absorption processes. However, according to the advantages of the oral route, alternative ways of drug administration in the oral cavity should be considered. In this context, it is essential to have a systematic knowledge of the GIT and the oral cavity components, for a better understanding of the processes taking place during the oral administration of drugs. This review gives an overview of those anatomical and physiological features and elucidates about the current approaches employed to enhance the bioavailability of oral poorly water-soluble drugs. Strategies including the uses of lipid-based nanocarriers, such as nanoemulsions, liposomes and lipid nanoparticles are discussed, considering their ability to improve solubility, dissolution kinetics, absorption and, consequently, biopharmaceutical properties. Some toxicological concerns are also highlighted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Biological Availability
  • Drug Carriers / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lipids / administration & dosage
  • Lipids / chemistry*
  • Mouth Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Mouth Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry*
  • Solubility
  • Water / chemistry


  • Drug Carriers
  • Lipids
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Water