Limited Efficiency of Drug Delivery to Specific Intracellular Organelles Using Subcellularly "Targeted" Drug Delivery Systems Academic Article uri icon


  • Many drugs have been designed to act on intracellular targets and to affect intracellular processes inside target cells. For the desired effects to be exerted, these drugs should permeate target cells and reach specific intracellular organelles. This subcellular drug targeting approach has been proposed for enhancement of accumulation of these drugs in target organelles and improved efficiency. This approach is based on drug encapsulation in drug delivery systems (DDSs) and/or their decoration with specific targeting moieties that are intended to enhance the drug/DDS accumulation in the intracellular organelle of interest. During recent years, there has been a constant increase in interest in DDSs targeted to specific intracellular organelles, and many different approaches have been proposed for attaining efficient drug delivery to specific organelles of interest. However, it appears that in many studies insufficient efforts have been devoted to quantitative analysis of the major formulation parameters of the DDSs disposition (efficiency of DDS endocytosis and endosomal escape, intracellular trafficking, and efficiency of DDS delivery to the target organelle) and of the resulting pharmacological effects. Thus, in many cases, claims regarding efficient delivery of drug/DDS to a specific organelle and efficient subcellular targeting appear to be exaggerated. On the basis of the available experimental data, it appears that drugs/DDS decoration with specific targeting residues can affect their intracellular fate and result in preferential drug accumulation within an organelle of interest. However, it is not clear whether these approaches will be efficient in in vivo settings and be translated into preclinical and clinical applications. Studies that quantitatively assess the mechanisms, barriers, and efficiencies of subcellular drug delivery and of the associated toxic effects are required to determine the therapeutic potential of subcellular DDS targeting.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016