Nano-fats for bugs: the benefits of lipid nanoparticles for antimicrobial therapy

Chelsea R. Thorn, Nicky Thomas, Ben J. Boyd, Clive A. Prestidge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial infections are an imminent global healthcare threat evolving from rapidly advancing bacterial defence mechanisms that antibiotics fail to overcome. Antibiotics have been designed for systemic administration to target planktonic bacteria, leading to difficulties in reaching the site of localized bacterial infection and an inability to overcome the biological, chemical and physical barriers of bacteria, including biofilms, intracellular infections and antimicrobial resistance. The amphiphilic, biomimetic and antimicrobial properties of lipids provide a promising toolbox to innovate and advance antimicrobial therapies, overcoming the barriers presented by bacteria in order to directly and effectively treat recalcitrant infections. Nanoparticulate lipid-based drug delivery systems can enhance antibiotic permeation through the chemical and physical barriers of bacterial infections, as well as fuse with bacterial cell membranes, release antibiotics in response to bacteria and act synergistically with loaded antibiotics to enhance the total antimicrobial efficacy. This review explores the barriers presented by bacterial infections that pose bio-pharmaceutical challenges to antibiotics and how different structural and functional mechanisms of lipids can enhance antimicrobial therapies. Different nanoparticulate lipid-based systems are presented as valuable drug delivery systems to advance the efficacy of antibiotics, including liposomes, liquid crystalline nanoparticles, solid lipid nanoparticles, nanostructured lipid carriers and lipid nanocarriers. In summary, liquid crystalline nanoparticles are emerging with the greatest potential for clinical applications and commercial success as an “all-rounder” advanced lipid-based antimicrobial therapy that overcomes the multiple biological, chemical and physical barriers of bacteria. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1598–1624
Number of pages27
JournalDrug Delivery and Translational Research
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Antibiotics
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Biofilms
  • Intracellular infections
  • Lipid nanoparticles
  • Lipid-based drug delivery
  • Liposomes
  • Liquid crystalline nanoparticles

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