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Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2011 Aug;8(8):1085-104. doi: 10.1517/17425247.2011.586334. Epub 2011 May 21.

Mucoadhesive nanomedicines: characterization and modulation of mucoadhesion at the nanoscale.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.



The benefits of mucoadhesive systems are related to the increased in situ residence and intimate contact of the delivery vehicle with the mucosa. The recent emergence of nanomedicine and the properties of nanoparticulate systems have created new challenges in understanding the nature and mechanisms of nanoscale mucoadhesion and in the development of methodologies for measuring its mucoadhesive potential. Even when usually regarded as an advantageous property, mucoadhesion can be an inconvenience for nanosystems, and strategies have been developed for minimizing interactions with the mucosal tissues/fluids.


This article summarizes the basic concepts of mucoadhesion at the nanoscale, different techniques used for measuring the mucoadhesive potential of nanosystems and strategies for increasing/decreasing mucoadhesive interactions.


The mucoadhesion behavior of materials in bulk and at the nanoscale can significantly differ. Advances in the methodology used for studying the mucoadhesion phenomenon have contributed to its better understanding and, more importantly, the development of strategies to increase/decrease mucoadhesion. However, development of new methodologies for studying mucoadhesion at the nanoscale and the refinement of existing methodologies are still required. Also, a substantial amount of information is still lacking, particularly related to formulation issues, on how to translate lessons learnt at the bench top to the bed side.

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