Liposomal Delivery of Nutraceuticals: The Truth about Safety

A recent review of lipid encapsulation technologies applied to pharmaceutical development focuses on the enduring utility of liposomes as carriers; it states, “Their attraction lies in their composition, which makes them biocompatible and biodegradable.”[1] The authors go on to state that, “Liposomes composed of natural phospholipids are biologically inert and weakly immunogenic, and they possess low intrinsic toxicity.” Another author group reiterates this sentiment, stating: “Liposomes are non-toxic, flexible, biocompatible, completely biodegradable, and non-immunogenic for systemic and non-systemic administrations.”[2] In fact, it is precisely this biocompatibility and biodegradability that draws pharmaceutical developers to use them. Liposomes in pharmaceutical delivery are dominantly administered IV, and their main function is to contain the severe toxicity of the chemotherapeutic and antibiotic drugs they carry, within an inert, pro-biological matrix that protects the biological terrain from the drug’s effects during transport to target sites in the body—usually vascularly leaky sites like tumors [1,3-4]. The use of liposomes in nutraceutical delivery is quite different—they increase bioavailability of orally delivered compounds. Importantly, the intrinsic safety of a phospholipid-based system remains critical to why they are used in this regard, instead of purely synthetic surfactant systems. These basic facts make phospholipid-based deliveries a “no-brainer”.

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