The basics and underlying mechanisms of mucoadhesion

John Smart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mucoadhesion is where two surfaces, one of which is a mucous membrane, adhere to each other. This has been of interest in the pharmaceutical sciences in order to enhance localised drug delivery, or to deliver ‘difficult’ molecules (proteins and oligonucleotides) into the systemic circulation. Mucoadhesive materials are hydrophilic macromolecules containing numerous hydrogen bond forming groups, the carbomers and chitosans being two well-known examples. The mechanism by which mucoadhesion takes place has been said to have two stages, the contact (wetting) stage followed by the consolidation stage (the establishment of the adhesive interactions). The relative importance of each stage will depend on the individual application. For example, adsorption is a key stage if the dosage form cannot be applied directly to the mucosa of interest, while consolidation is important if the formulation is exposed to significant dislodging stresses. Adhesive joint failure will inevitably occur as a result of overhydration of a dosage form, or as a result of epithelia or mucus turnover. New mucoadhesive materials with optimal adhesive properties are now being developed, and these should enhance the potential applications of this technology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1556-1568
Number of pages13
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


  • Mucoadhesion
  • Mucoadhesives
  • Bioadhesion
  • Bioadhesives
  • Mucosal delivery
  • Carbomers


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