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Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2014 Feb;11(2):211-29. doi: 10.1517/17425247.2014.866088. Epub 2013 Dec 19.

Lymphatic system: a prospective area for advanced targeting of particulate drug carriers.

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National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (NIPER), Department of Pharmaceutics , Hyderabad 500037 , India +91 40 27193004, +91 40 23073741 ; +91 40 27193753, +91 40 23073751 ; ;



The lymphatic system has a critical role in the immune system's recognition and response to disease and it is an additional circulatory system throughout the entire body. Extensive multidisciplinary investigations have been carried out in the area of lymphatic delivery, and lymphatic targeting has attracted a lot of attention for providing preferential chemotherapy and improving bioavailability of drugs that undergo hepatic first-pass metabolism.


This review focuses on progress in the field of lymphatic therapeutics and diagnosis. Moreover, the anatomy and physiology of the lymphatic system, particulate drug carriers and different physicochemical parameters of both modified and unmodified particulate drug carriers and their effect on lymphatic targeting are addressed.


Particulate drug carriers have encouraged lymphatic targeting, but there are still challenges in targeting drugs and bioactives to specific sites, maintaining desired action and crossing all the physiological barriers. Lymphatic therapy using drug-encapsulated lipid carriers, especially liposomes and solid lipid nanoparticles, emerges as a new technology to provide better penetration into the lymphatics where residual disease exists. Size is the most important criteria when designing nanocarriers for targeting lymphatic vessels as the transportation of these particles into lymphatic vessels is size dependent. By increasing our understanding of lymphatic transport and uptake, and the role of lymphatics in various diseases, we can design new therapeutics for effective disease control.

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