Prospects and challenges of phospholipid-based prodrugs

Milica Markovic, Shimon Ben-Shabat, Shahar Keinan, Aaron Aponick, Ellen M. Zimmermann, Arik Dahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Nowadays, the prodrug approach is used already at the early stages of drug development. Lipidic prodrug approach is a growing field for improving a number of drug properties/ delivery/therapy aspects, and can offer solutions for various unmet needs. This approach includes drug moiety bound to the lipid carrier, which can be triglyceride, fatty acids, steroid, or phospholipid (PL). The focus of this article is PL-based prodrugs, which includes a PL carrier covalently bound to the active drug moiety. An overview of relevant physiological lipid processing pathways and absorption barriers is provided, followed by drug delivery/therapeutic application of PL-drug conjugates, as well as computational modeling techniques, and a modern bioinformatics tool that can aid in the optimization of PL conjugates. PL-based prodrugs have increased lipophilicity comparing to the parent drug, and can therefore significantly improve the pharmacokinetic profile and overall bioavailability of the parent drug, join the endogenous lipid processing pathways and therefore accomplish drug targeting, e.g., by lymphatic transport, drug release at specific target site(s), or passing the blood-brain barrier. Moreover, an exciting gateway for treating inflammatory diseases and cancer is presented, by utilizing the PL sn-2 position in the prodrug design, aiming for PLA2-mediated activation. Overall, a PL-based prodrug approach shows great potential in improving different drug delivery/therapy aspects, and is expected to grow.

Original languageEnglish
Article number210
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Drug delivery
  • Drug therapy
  • Phospholipids
  • Pla2
  • Prodrugs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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