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Developments on Drug Delivery Systems for the Treatment of Mycobacterial Infections

[ Vol. 8 , Issue. 7 ]


M. M. Gaspar, A. Cruz, A. G. Fraga, A. G. Castro, M. E. M. Cruz and J. Pedrosa   Pages 579 - 591 ( 13 )


The clinical management of tuberculosis and other mycobacterial diseases with antimycobacterial chemotherapy remains a difficult task. The classical treatment protocols are long-lasting; the drugs reach mycobacteriainfected macrophages in low amounts and/or do not persist long enough to develop the desired antimycobacterial effect; and the available agents induce severe toxic effects. Nanotechnology has provided a huge improvement to pharmacology through the designing of drug delivery systems able to target phagocytic cells infected by intracellular pathogens, such as mycobacteria. Liposomes and nanoparticles of polymeric nature represent two of the most efficient drug carrier systems that after in vivo administration are endocytosed by phagocytic cells and then release the carried agents into these cells. This article reviews the relevant publications describing the effectiveness of the association of antimycobacterial agents with liposomes or nanoparticles for the treatment of mycobacterioses, particularly for Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. avium infections. The increased therapeutic index of antimycobacterial drugs; the reduction of dosing frequency; and the improvement of solubility of hydrophobic agents, allowing the administration of higher doses, have been demonstrated in experimental infections. These advantages may lead to new therapeutic protocols that will improve patient compliance and, consequently, lead to a more successful control of mycobacterial infections. The potential therapeutic advantages resulting from the use of non-invasive administration routes for nanoparticulate systems are also discussed.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis, M. avium, drug delivery, liposomes, nanoparticles


Life and Health Sciences Research Institute, School of Health Sciences, University of Minho, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal.

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