The influence of lung surfactant liquid crystalline nanostructures on respiratory drug delivery

Shyamal C. Das, Peter J. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The respiratory route increasingly has been used for both local and systemic drug delivery. Although drug is absorbed rapidly after respiratory delivery, the role of lung surfactant in drug delivery is not well understood. The human lung contains only around 15 mL of surface lining fluid spread over ∼100 m2 surface. The fluid contains lung surfactant at a concentration of 8–24 mg/kg/body weight; the lung surfactant which is lipo-protein in nature can form different liquid crystalline nanostructures. After a brief overview of the anatomy of respiratory system, the review has focused on the current understanding of lung surface lining fluid, lung surfactants and their composition and possible self-assembled nanostructures. The role of lung surfactant in drug delivery and drug dissolution has been briefly considered. Lung surfactant may form different liquid crystalline phases which can have an active role in drug delivery. The hypotheses developed in this review focuses on the potential roles of surface epithelial fluid containing liquid crystalline nanostructures in defining the dissolution mechanism and rate. The hypotheses also focus an understanding how liquid crystalline nanostructures can be used to control dissolution rate and how the nanostructures might be changed to influence delivery and induce toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-474
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2016


  • Absorption
  • Controlled release
  • Dissolution
  • Liquid crystal
  • Lung surfactant
  • Respiratory drug delivery

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