Liposomes and Extracellular Vesicles as Drug Delivery Systems: A Comparison of Composition, Pharmacokinetics, and Functionalization

Luke van der Koog, Timea B Gandek, Anika Nagelkerke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)
106 Downloads (Pure)


Over the past decades, lipid-based nanoparticle drug delivery systems (DDS) have caught the attention of researchers worldwide, encouraging the field to rapidly develop improved ways for effective drug delivery. One of the most prominent examples is liposomes, which are spherical shaped artificial vesicles composed of lipid bilayers and able to encapsulate both hydrophilic and hydrophobic materials. At the same time, biological nanoparticles naturally secreted by cells, called extracellular vesicles (EVs), have emerged as promising more complex biocompatible DDS. In this review paper, the differences and similarities in the composition of both vesicles are evaluated, and critical mediators that affect their pharmacokinetics are elucidate. Different strategies that have been assessed to tweak the pharmacokinetics of both liposomes and EVs are explored, detailing the effects on circulation time, targeting capacity, and cytoplasmic delivery of therapeutic cargo. Finally, whether a hybrid system, consisting of a combination of only the critical constituents of both vesicles, could offer the best of both worlds is discussed. Through these topics, novel leads for further research are provided and, more importantly, gain insight in what the liposome field and the EV field can learn from each other.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2100639
Number of pages32
JournalAdvanced healthcare materials
Issue number5
Early online date24-Jun-2021
Publication statusPublished - 2-Mar-2022

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