The potential of chitosan in drug delivery systems

S. B. Silva, João Fernandes, Freni K. Tavaria, Manuela Pintado, Bruno Sarmento*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Chitosan has been exploited in promising drug delivery systems to release drugs in the target place, at the appropriate time and dosage, improving their bioavailability and, consequently, the therapeutic efficiency. On top of that, also allows the protection, control and release of biotech drugs such as peptides, genes, vaccines, antigens as well as synthetic drugs, which are highly limited to cross biological barriers and reach the target site, without collateral damage. Besides being easily manipulated, chitosan has important features, which make it unique. Its hydrosolubility and positive charge enable negative interactions with charged polymers, macromolecules, and polyanions when in contact with aqueous environment. Its exceptional biological properties such as mucoadhesiveness, permeation-enhancing effect across biological surfaces, biocompatibility and non-toxicity/non-antigenic make it useful for transmucosal drug delivery, improving absorption of the paracellular route. However, a better and future application of chitosan as therapeutic agent clearly depends on the design of appropriate carriers. As revised in this chapter, chitosan has been used in preparing films, beads, intragastric floating tablets, microparticles and nanoparticles for applications in the pharmaceutical field, surgeries and bone restructuring. Controlled drug delivery technology represents one of the borders of science, which involves a multidisciplinary scientific approach, contributing to human health care. Chitosan, with all its chemical and biological multipotential emerged as a promising solution for different conditions and medical applications, overcoming common problems of other drug carriers. As also described in this chapter, several clinical trials involving chitosan-based delivery systems are on the roll to explore in clinical the advantages of this exceptional material.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFocus on Chitosan Research
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9781613244548
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Chitosan
  • Controlled drug delivery
  • Films
  • Gene delivery
  • Hydrogels
  • Medical applications
  • Microparticles
  • Nanoparticles
  • Solutions
  • Tablets


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