Potential of Liposomes for Enhancement of Oral Drug Absorption

Curr Drug Deliv. 2017;14(2):289-303. doi: 10.2174/1567201813666160115125756.


Oral administration of medication is the first option when patient compliance is considered. However, many barriers face oral absorption of drugs that limit bioavailability in about 90% of therapeutic agents. Utilization of nanoparticulate drug delivery systems is a major strategy for increasing oral absorption. They can improve oral bioavailability through mechanisms such as protection of the drug in the GI tract, increasing cellular contact and residence time of the drug, protection of the drug from presystemic metabolism and efflux and increasing diffusion across the mucosal and epithelial layers. Liposomes are biocompatible carriers employed to improve oral bioavailability of drugs and in addition to the general advantages of nanocarriers for oral delivery, they offer benefits derived from their lipidic bilayer structure. They can better adhere to biomembranes, form mixed-micelle structures with bile salts to increase the solubility of poorly-soluble drugs and are suitable candidates for lymphatic uptake. They have been successful in improving oral bioavailability of a variety of compounds including peptide and proteins, hydrophilic and lipophilic drugs. Stability under GI conditions is the main concern for oral liposomes, however, promising approaches have been suggested to increase the stability of oral liposomes. These include: using appropriate lipid compositions, polymer coating, addition of stabilizing lipids to liposomal structures, preparation of double liposomes and proliposomes and some other innovative methods. The present review focuses on the role of liposomes in improving oral absorption of drugs, the problems encountered, and the types of liposomes designed to overcome these issues. Barriers to oral delivery will be discussed and examples of bioavailability enhancement upon encapsulation in various types of liposomes investigated.

Keywords: Bile salts; ligand; mucoadhesive liposomes; oral bioavailability; oral liposomes; stability.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorption, Physiological
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Liposomes / administration & dosage*
  • Liposomes / chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*


  • Liposomes
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations