Peptide Nanomaterials for Drug Delivery Applications

Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2020;21(4):401-412. doi: 10.2174/1389203721666200101091834.


Self-assembled peptides have been shown to form well-defined nanostructures which display outstanding characteristics for many biomedical applications and especially in controlled drug delivery. Such biomaterials are becoming increasingly popular due to routine, standardized methods of synthesis, high biocompatibility, biodegradability and ease of upscale. Moreover, one can modify the structure at the molecular level to form various nanostructures with a wide range of applications in the field of medicine. Through environmental modifications such as changes in pH and ionic strength and the introduction of enzymes or light, it is possible to trigger self-assembly and design a host of different self-assembled nanostructures. The resulting nanostructures include nanotubes, nanofibers, hydrogels and nanovesicles which all display a diverse range of physico-chemical and mechanical properties. Depending on their design, peptide self-assembling nanostructures can be manufactured with improved biocompatibility and in vivo stability and the ability to encapsulate drugs with the capacity for sustained drug delivery. These molecules can act as carriers for drug molecules to ferry cargo intracellularly and respond to stimuli changes for both hydrophilic and hydrophobic drugs. This review explores the types of self-assembling nanostructures, the effects of external stimuli on and the mechanisms behind the assembly process, and applications for such technology in drug delivery.

Keywords: Peptide; drug delivery; mechanism; nanomaterials; self-assembly; stimuli..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / radiation effects
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / administration & dosage
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / chemistry*
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / radiation effects
  • Drug Carriers / administration & dosage
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Drug Compounding / methods
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / administration & dosage
  • Hydrogels / chemistry*
  • Hydrogels / radiation effects
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Light
  • Nanofibers / administration & dosage
  • Nanofibers / chemistry*
  • Nanofibers / radiation effects
  • Nanotubes / chemistry*
  • Nanotubes / radiation effects
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Peptides, Cyclic / chemistry
  • Peptides, Cyclic / pharmacology
  • Protein Conformation, beta-Strand
  • Static Electricity
  • Temperature


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Drug Carriers
  • Hydrogels
  • Peptides, Cyclic