Airway epithelial-targeted nanoparticles for asthma therapy

Stanislav Kan, Dewi Melani Hariyadi, Christopher Grainge, Darryl A. Knight, Nathan W. Bartlett, Mingtao Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease associated with intermittent airflow obstruction caused by airway inflammation, mucus overproduction, and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Despite current treatment and management options, a large number of patients with asthma still have poorly controlled disease and are susceptible to acute exacerbations, usually caused by a respiratory virus infection. As a result, there remains a need for novel therapies to achieve better control and prevent/treat exacerbations. Nanoparticles (NPs), including extracellular vesicles (EV) and their synthetic counterparts, have been developed for drug delivery in respiratory diseases. In the case of asthma, where airway epithelium dysfunction, including dysregulated differentiation of epithelial cells, impaired barrier, and immune response, is a driver of disease, targeting airway epithelial cells with NPs may offer opportunities to repair or reverse these dysfunctions with therapeutic interventions. EVs possess multiple advantages for airway epithelial targeting, such as their natural intrinsic cell-targeting properties and low immunogenicity. Synthetic NPs can be coated with muco-inert polymers to overcome biological barriers such as mucus and the phagocytic response of immune cells. Targeting ligands could be also added to enhance targeting specificity to epithelial cells. The review presents current understanding and advances in NP-mediated drug delivery to airway epithelium for asthma therapy. Future perspectives in this therapeutic strategy will also be discussed, including the development of novel formulations and physiologically relevant preclinical models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L500-L509
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • airway epithelial targeting
  • asthma therapy
  • extracellular vesicles
  • nanoparticles
  • pulmonary drug delivery


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