The impact of ageing on the barriers to drug delivery

Yvonne Perrie, Raj K. Singh Badhan, Daniel J. Kirby, Deborah Lowry, Afzal R. Mohammed, Defang Ouyang

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    42 Citations (Scopus)


    Generally, we like to see ageing as a process that is happening to people older than ourselves. However the process of ageing impacts on a wide range of functions within the human body. Whilst many of the outcomes of ageing can now be delayed or reduced, age-related changes in cellular, molecular and physiological functionality of tissues and organs can also influence how drugs enter, distribute and are eliminated from the body. Therefore, the changing profile of barriers to drug delivery should be considered if we are to develop more age-appropriate medicines. Changes in the drug dissolution and absorption in older patients may require the formulation of oral delivery systems that offer enhanced retention at absorption sites to improve drug delivery. Alternatively, liquid and fast-melt dosage systems may address the need of patients who have difficulties in swallowing medication. Ageing-induced changes in the lung can also result in slower drug absorption, which is further compounded by disease factors, common in an ageing population, that reduce lung capacity. In terms of barriers to drug delivery to the eye, the main consideration is the tear film, which like other barriers to drug delivery, changes with normal ageing and can impact on the bioavailability of drugs delivery using eye drops and suspensions. In contrast, whilst the skin as a barrier changes with age, no significant difference in absorption of drugs from transdermal drug delivery is observed in different age groups. However, due to the age-related pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic changes, dose adaptation should still be considered for drug delivery across the skin. Overall it is clear that the increasing age demographic of most populations, presents new (or should that be older) barriers to effective drug delivery.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)389-398
    JournalJournal of Controlled Release
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 20 Jul 2012


    • Drug delivery
    • Ageing
    • Oral route
    • Pulmonary route
    • Topical delivery
    • Ocular route


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