Nanostructured lipid carriers (NLCs) are drug-delivery systems composed of both solid and liquid lipids as a core matrix. It was shown that NLCs reveal some advantages for drug therapy over conventional carriers, including increased solubility, the ability to enhance storage stability, improved permeability and bioavailability, reduced adverse effect, prolonged half-life, and tissue-targeted delivery. NLCs have attracted increasing attention in recent years. This review describes recent developments in drug delivery using NLCs strategies. The structures, preparation techniques, and physicochemical characterization of NLCs are systematically elucidated in this review. The potential of NLCs to be used for different administration routes is highlighted. Special attention is paid to parenteral injection and topical delivery since these are the most common routes for investigating NLCs. Relevant issues for the introduction of NLCs to market, including pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications, are discussed. The related patents of NLCs for drug delivery are also reviewed. Finally, the future development and current obstacles needing to be resolved are elucidated.
Keywords: Drug targeting, lipid nanoparticles, nanostructured lipid carriers (NLCs), drug delivery