Tailoring Formulations for Intranasal Nose-to-Brain Delivery: A Review on Architecture, Physico-Chemical Characteristics and Mucociliary Clearance of the Nasal Olfactory Mucosa

Pharmaceutics. 2018 Aug 3;10(3):116. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics10030116.


The blood-brain barrier and the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier are major obstacles in central nervous system (CNS) drug delivery, since they block most molecules from entering the brain. Alternative drug delivery routes like intraparenchymal or intrathecal are invasive methods with a remaining risk of infections. In contrast, nose-to-brain delivery is a minimally invasive drug administration pathway, which bypasses the blood-brain barrier as the drug is directed from the nasal cavity to the brain. In particular, the skull base located at the roof of the nasal cavity is in close vicinity to the CNS. This area is covered with olfactory mucosa. To design and tailor suitable formulations for nose-to-brain drug delivery, the architecture, structure and physico-chemical characteristics of the mucosa are important criteria. Hence, here we review the state-of-the-art knowledge about the characteristics of the nasal and, in particular, the olfactory mucosa needed for a rational design of intranasal formulations and dosage forms. Also, the information is suitable for the development of systemic or local intranasal drug delivery as well as for intranasal vaccinations.

Keywords: CNS drug delivery; NALT; biopharmaceuticals; dosage form; medical device; nanoparticles; olfactory epithelium; respiratory epithelium; semisolid.

Publication types

  • Review