Nanoparticle Delivery Systems with Cell-Specific Targeting for Pulmonary Diseases

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2021 Mar;64(3):292-307. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2020-0306TR.


Respiratory disorders are among the most important medical problems threatening human life. The conventional therapeutics for respiratory disorders are hindered by insufficient drug concentrations at pathological lesions, lack of cell-specific targeting, and various biobarriers in the conducting airways and alveoli. To address these critical issues, various nanoparticle delivery systems have been developed to serve as carriers of specific drugs, DNA expression vectors, and RNAs. The unique properties of nanoparticles, including controlled size and distribution, surface functional groups, high payload capacity, and drug release triggering capabilities, are tailored to specific requirements in drug/gene delivery to overcome major delivery barriers in pulmonary diseases. To avoid off-target effects and improve therapeutic efficacy, nanoparticles with high cell-targeting specificity are essential for successful nanoparticle therapies. Furthermore, low toxicity and high degradability of the nanoparticles are among the most important requirements in the nanoparticle designs. In this review, we provide the most up-to-date research and clinical outcomes in nanoparticle therapies for pulmonary diseases. We also address the current critical issues in key areas of pulmonary cell targeting, biosafety and compatibility, and molecular mechanisms for selective cellular uptake.

Keywords: endothelium; epithelium; nanomedicine; nanoparticle delivery systems; respiratory disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical Technology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Nanoparticles / therapeutic use*