Background: The respiratory tract as a non-invasive route of drug administration is gaining
increasing attention in the present time on achieving both local and the systemic therapeutic effects.
Success in achieving pulmonary delivery, requires overcoming barriers including mucociliary clearance
and uptake by macrophages. An effective drug delivery system delivers the therapeutically active
moieties at the right time and rate to target sites. A major limitation associated with most of the currently
available conventional and controlled release drug delivery devices is that not all the drug candidates
are well absorbed uniformly locally or systemically.
Methods: We searched and reviewed the literature focusing on chitosan and chitosan derivative based
nanocarrier systems used in pulmonary drug delivery. We focused on the applications of chitosan in
the development of nanoparticles for this purpose.
Results: Chitosan, a natural linear bio-polyaminosaccharide is central in the development of novel
drug delivery systems (NDDS) including nanoparticles for use in the treatment of various respiratory
diseases. It achieves this through its unique properties of biodegradability, biocompatibility, mucoadhesivity
and its ability to enhance macromolecule permeation across membranes. It also achieves sustained
and targeted effects, primary requirements for an effective pulmonary drug delivery system.
This review highlights the applications and importance of chitosan with special emphasis on
nanotechnology, employed in the management of respiratory diseases such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive
Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis.
Conclusion: This review will be of interest to both the biological and formulation scientists as it provides
a summary on the utility of chitosan in pulmonary drug delivery systems. At present, there are
no patented chitosan based controlled release products available for pulmonary drug delivery and so
this area has enormous potential in the field of respiratory science.