Titania nanotube arrays for local drug delivery: recent advances and perspectives

Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2015 Jan;12(1):103-27. doi: 10.1517/17425247.2014.945418. Epub 2014 Nov 7.


Introduction: Titania nanotube (TNTs) arrays engineered by simple and scalable electrochemical anodization process have been extensively explored as a new nanoengineering approach to address the limitations of systemic drug administration. Due to their outstanding properties and excellent biocompatibility, TNTs arrays have been used to develop new drug-releasing implants (DRI) for emerging therapies based on localized drug delivery (DD). This review highlights the concepts of DRI based on TNTs with a focus on recent progress in their development and future perspectives towards advanced medical therapies.

Areas covered: Recent progress in new strategies for controlling drug release from TNTs arrays aimed at designing TNTs-based DRI with optimized performances, including extended drug release and zero-order release kinetics and remotely activated release are described. Furthermore, significant progress in biocompatibility studies on TNTs and their outstanding properties to promote hydroxyapatite and bone cells growths and to differentiate stem cells are highlighted. Examples of ex vivo and in vivo studies of drug-loaded TNTs are shown to confirm the practical and potential applicability of TNTs-based DRI for clinical studies. Finally, selected examples of preliminary clinical applications of TNTs for bone therapy and orthopedic implants, cardiovascular stents, dentistry and cancer therapy are presented.

Expert opinion: As current studies have demonstrated, TNTs are a remarkable material that could potentially revolutionize localized DD therapies, especially in areas of orthopedics and localized chemotherapy. However, more extensive ex vivo and in vivo studies should be carried out before TNTs-based DRI could become a feasible technology for real-life clinical applications. This will imply the implementation of different approaches to overcome some technical and commercial challenges.

Keywords: drug delivery; drug release; drug-releasing implants; electrochemical anodization; localized drug delivery; orthopedic implants; titania nanotube arrays.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Dentistry
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Drug Implants / chemistry*
  • Drug Implants / pharmacokinetics
  • Micelles
  • Nanotubes / chemistry*
  • Osseointegration / drug effects
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • Titanium / chemistry*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Drug Implants
  • Micelles
  • Polymers
  • titanium dioxide
  • Titanium