The interest in approaches to deliver therapeutics to the lymphatic system has increased in recent years as the lymphatics have been discovered to play an important role in a range of disease states such as cancer metastases, inflammatory and metabolic disease, and acute and critical illness. Therapeutic delivery to lymph has the potential to enhance treatment of these conditions. Currently much of the existing data explores therapeutic delivery to the lymphatic vessels and nodes that drain peripheral tissues and the intestine. Relatively little focus has been given to understanding the anatomy, function and therapeutic delivery to the peritoneal lymphatics. Gaining a better understanding of peritoneal lymphatic structure and function would contribute to the understanding of disease processes involving these lymphatics and facilitate the development of delivery systems to target therapeutics to the peritoneal lymphatics. This review explores the basic anatomy and ultrastructure of the peritoneal lymphatics system, the lymphatic drainage pathways from the peritoneum, and therapeutic and delivery system characteristics (size, lipophilicity and surface properties) that favour lymph uptake and retention after intraperitoneal delivery. Finally, techniques that can be used to quantify uptake into peritoneal lymph are outlined, providing a platform for future studies.
- Drug delivery