Erythrocytes as pharmacological carriers for corticosteroids and other drugs in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases

Luigia Rossi, Francesca Pierigé, Angelo Andriulli, Mauro Magnani

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


For patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), corticosteroids are usually employed to cut the active phase and induce long-lasting remission. However, either short- and long-term use of corticosteroids carriers adverse events, so that in principle they need to be formulated in a way to be released in low and effective doses for prolonged periods of time. Aim of the review is, at first, to reassume preliminary clinical data on safety and efficacy of administering dexamethasone 21-phosphate entrapped into red blood cells (RBCs) in IBD patients. It is known in fact that, owing to the capability of red blood cell membranes to be opened and resealed under appropriate conditions, RBCs can be loaded with therapeutics and act as pharmacological carriers to distribute them throughout the body. In particular, the un-diffusible corticosteroid analogue dexamethasone 21-phosphate was entrapped into IBD patient's erythrocytes which, once re-infused into original donor, were able to work as a slow delivering system for dexamethasone. After each reinfusion in fact, thank to the ability of resident enzymes to remove the phosphate group from the phosphorylated pro-drug, the active diffusible dexamethasone was released in circulation where remained detectable for up to 28 days permitting the withdrawn of oral steroids and maintaining clinical remission. Moreover, since engineered erythrocytes can be modified to target new and conventional drugs to pathological sites, working hypotheses about the feasibility of loading RBCs with other non-diffusible drugs, peptides and oligonucleotides for this target population will be here presented. Surely, the feasibility of this novel approach might be expanded and merits further clinical investigations. Finally, the availability of an apparatus that permits the encapsulation of drugs into autologous erythrocytes has made this technology available in clinical settings and competitive with other drug delivery systems.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDrug Delivery
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781613245385
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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