Lipid-based systems as a promising approach for enhancing the bioavailability of poorly water-soluble drugs

Katja Čerpnjak 1 , Alenka Zvonar 2 , Mirjana Gašperlin 2 ,  and Franc Vrečer 1 , 2
  • 1 Krka, d.d., Novo mesto, 8501 Novo mesto, Slovenia
  • 2 Fakulteta za farmacijo, 1000 Ljubljana,Slovenia


Low oral bioavailability as a consequence of low water solubility of drugs is a growing challenge to the development of new pharmaceutical products. One of the most popular approaches of oral bioavailability and solubility enhancement is the utilization of lipid-based drug delivery systems. Their use in product development is growing due to the versatility of pharmaceutical lipid excipients and drug formulations, and their compatibility with liquid, semi-solid, and solid dosage forms. Lipid formulations, such as self-emulsifying (SEDDS), self-microemulsifying SMEDDS) and self- -nanoemulsifying drug delivery systems (SNEDDS) were explored in many studies as an efficient approach for improving the bioavailability and dissolution rate of poorly water-soluble drugs. One of the greatest advantages of incorporating poorly soluble drugs into such formulations is their spontaneous emulsification and formation of an emulsion, microemulsion or nanoemulsion in aqueous media. This review article focuses on the following topics. First, it presents a classification overview of lipid-based drug delivery systems and mechanisms involved in improving the solubility and bioavailability of poorly water-soluble drugs. Second, the article reviews components of lipid-based drug delivery systems for oral use with their characteristics. Third, it brings a detailed description of SEDDS, SMEDDS and SNEDDS, which are very often misused in literature, with special emphasis on the comparison between microemulsions and nanoemulsions.

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