Protein nanocarriers possess unique merits including minimal cytotoxicity, numerous renewable
sources, and high drug-binding capability. In opposition to delivery carriers utilizing hydrophilic animal proteins,
hydrophobic plant proteins (e.g, zein) have great tendency in fabricating controlled-release particulate carriers
without additional chemical modification to stiffen them, which in turn evades the use of toxic chemical
crosslinkers. Moreover, zein is related to a class of alcohol-soluble prolamins and generally recognized as safe
(GRAS) carrier for drug delivery. Various techniques have been adopted to fabricate zein-based nanoparticulate
systems including phase separation coacervation, spray-drying, supercritical anti-solvent approach, electrospinning
and self-assembly. This manuscript reviews the recent advances in the zein-based colloidal nano-carrier
systems such as nanospheres, nanocapsules, micelles and nanofibers with a special focus on their physicochemical
characteristics and drug delivery applications.
Keywords: Zein nanoparticles, drug delivery, gene delivery, protein delivery, anti-tumor efficacy, nano-carrier.
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