Transport mechanisms at the pulmonary mucosa: implications for drug delivery

Sabrina Nickel, Caoimhe G Clerkin, Mohammed Ali Selo, Carsten Ehrhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: Over the past years, a significant number of papers have substantiated earlier findings proposing a role for drug transporter proteins in pulmonary drug disposition. Whilst the majority of reports present data from in vitro models, a growing number of publications advance the field by introducing sophisticated ex vivo and in vivo techniques. In a few cases, evidence from clinical studies in human volunteers is complementing the picture.

AREAS COVERED: In this review, recent advances in pulmonary drug transporter research are critically evaluated. Transporter expression data in tissues and cell-based in vitro models is summarized and information on transport activity assessed. Novel techniques allowing for better quantification of transporter-related effects following pulmonary delivery are also described.

EXPERT OPINION: Different tissue and cell populations of the lung have distinct transporter expression patterns. Whether these patterns are affected by disease, gender and smoking habits requires further clarification. Transporters have been found to have an impact on drug absorption processes, at least in vitro. Recent ex vivo experiments using isolated, perfused lung models, however, suggest that mainly efflux pumps have significant effects on absorption into the pulmonary circulation. Whether these rodent-based ex vivo models predict the human situation is basis for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-90
Number of pages24
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Delivery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1/metabolism
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters/metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Humans
  • Lung/metabolism
  • Membrane Transport Proteins/metabolism
  • Mucous Membrane/metabolism
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins/metabolism
  • Neoplasm Proteins/metabolism
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins/metabolism
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations/administration & dosage


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