Hyaluronic acid conjugates as vectors for the active targeting of drugs, genes and nanocomposites in cancer treatment

Molecules. 2014 Mar 17;19(3):3193-230. doi: 10.3390/molecules19033193.


Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally-occurring glycosaminoglycan and a major component of the extracellular matrix. Low levels of the hyaluronic acid receptor CD44 are found on the surface of epithelial, hematopoietic, and neuronal cells; it is overexpressed in many cancer cells, and in particular in tumor-initiating cells. HA has recently attracted considerable interest in the field of developing drug delivery systems, having been used, as such or encapsulated in different types of nanoassembly, as ligand to prepare nano-platforms for actively targeting drugs, genes, and diagnostic agents. This review describes recent progress made with the several chemical strategies adopted to synthesize conjugates and prepare novel delivery systems with improved behaviors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Genes*
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid / chemistry*
  • Nanocomposites / chemistry*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Drug Carriers
  • Hyaluronic Acid