Cellular uptake and intracellular trafficking of oligonucleotides

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2015 Jun 29;87:35-45. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2015.04.005. Epub 2015 Apr 14.


Oligonucleotides manifest much promise as potential therapeutic agents. However, understanding of how oligonucleotides function within living organisms is still rather limited. A major concern in this regard is the mechanisms of cellular uptake and intracellular trafficking of both 'free' oligonucleotides and oligonucleotides associated with various polymeric or nanocarrier delivery systems. Here we review basic aspects of the mechanisms of endocytosis and intracellular trafficking and how insights from these processes can be used to understand oligonucleotide delivery. In particular we discuss opportunities for escape of oligonucleotides from endomembrane compartments and describe recent studies using small molecules to enhance oligonucleotide effects.

Keywords: Delivery; Endocytosis; Oligonucleotide; Pharmacology; Therapeutics; Trafficking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Line
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Drug Discovery
  • Endocytosis*
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Oligonucleotides / administration & dosage
  • Oligonucleotides / metabolism*
  • Oligonucleotides / pharmacology


  • Oligonucleotides