Chitosan nanoparticles for therapy and theranostics of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and liver-targeting

Maria Cristina Bonferoni, Elisabetta Gavini, Giovanna Rassu, Marcello Maestri, Paolo Giunchedi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Chitosan nanoparticles are well-known delivery systems widely used as polymeric carriers in the field of nanomedicine. Chitosan is a carbohydrate of natural origin: it is a biodegradable, biocompatible, mucoadhesive, polycationic polymer and it is endowed with penetration enhancer properties. Furthermore, it can be easily derivatized. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) represents a remarkable health problem because current therapies, that include surgery, liver transplantation, trans-arterial embolization, chemoembolization and chemotherapy, present significant limitations due to the high risk of recurrence, to a lack of drug selectivity and to other serious side effects. Therefore, there is the need for new therapeutic strategies and for improving the liver-targeting to HCC. Nanomedicine consists in the use of nanoscale carriers as delivery systems to target and deliver drugs and/or diagnostic agents to specific organs or tissues. Chitosan and its derivatives can be successfully used in the preparation of nanoparticles that, for their peculiar surface-properties, can specifically interact with liver tumor, by passive and active targeting. This review concerns the use of chitosan nanoparticles for the therapy and theranostics of HCC and liver-targeting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number870
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Chitosan
  • HCC
  • Hepatic surgery
  • Liver-targeting
  • Nanoparticles
  • Theranostics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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