Cell-mediated drug delivery

Elena V. Batrakova, Howard E. Gendelman, Alexander V. Kabanov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

271 Scopus citations


Introduction: Drug targeting to sites of tissue injury, tumor or infection with limited toxicity is the goal for successful pharmaceutics. Immunocytes (including mononuclear phagocytes (dendritic cells, monocytes and macrophages), neutrophils and lymphocytes) are highly mobile; they can migrate across impermeable barriers and release their drug cargo at sites of infection or tissue injury. Thus, immune cells can be exploited as Trojan horses for drug delivery. Areas covered: This paper reviews how immunocytes laden with drugs can cross the blood-brain or blood-tumor barriers to facilitate treatments for infectious diseases, injury, cancer, or inflammatory diseases. The promises and perils of cell-mediated drug delivery are reviewed, with examples of how immunocytes can be harnessed to improve therapeutic end points. Expert opinion: Using cells as delivery vehicles enables targeted drug transport and prolonged circulation times, along with reductions in cell and tissue toxicities. Such systems for drug carriage and targeted release represent a new disease-combating strategy being applied to a spectrum of human disorders. The design of nanocarriers for cell-mediated drug delivery may differ from those used for conventional drug delivery systems; nevertheless, engaging different defense mechanisms in drug delivery may open new perspectives for the active delivery of drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-433
Number of pages19
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Delivery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Cell carriers
  • drug delivery
  • immunocytes
  • nanoparticles
  • targeted drug transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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