AAPS PharmSciTech

, 20:287 | Cite as

Role of Ceramides in Drug Delivery

  • Hamad Alrbyawi
  • Ishwor Poudel
  • Ranjeet Prasad Dash
  • Nuggehally R. Srinivas
  • Amit K Tiwari
  • Robert D. ArnoldEmail author
  • R. Jayachandra BabuEmail author
Review Article Theme: Translational Multi-Disciplinary Approach for the Drug and Gene Delivery Systems


Ceramides belong to the sphingolipid group of lipids, which serve as both intracellular and intercellular messengers and as regulatory molecules that play essential roles in signal transduction, inflammation, angiogenesis, and metabolic disorders such as diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer cell degeneration. Ceramides also play an important structural role in cell membranes by increasing their rigidity, creating micro-domains (rafts and caveolae), and altering membrane permeability; all these events are involved in the cell signaling. Ceramides constitute approximately half of the lipid composition in the human skin contributing to barrier function as well as epidermal signaling as they affect both proliferation and apoptosis of keratinocytes. Incorporation of ceramides in topical preparations as functional lipids appears to alter skin barrier functions. Ceramides also appear to enhance the bioavailability of drugs by acting as lipid delivery systems. They appear to regulate the ocular inflammation signaling, and external ceramides have shown relief in the anterior and posterior eye disorders. Ceramides play a structural role in liposome formulations and enhance the cellular uptake of amphiphilic drugs, such as chemotherapies. This review presents an overview of the various biological functions of ceramides, and their utility in topical, oral, ocular, and chemotherapeutic drug delivery.


ceramides sphingolipids apoptosis drug delivery membrane permeability cell signaling 


Funding information

This study is financially supported by the Auburn University - Intramural Grant Program (AU-IGP), Auburn University Research Initiative in Cancer (AURIC), and Auburn University Presidential Initiative in Interdisciplinary Research (PAIR) grants.


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Copyright information

© American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hamad Alrbyawi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ishwor Poudel
    • 1
  • Ranjeet Prasad Dash
    • 1
  • Nuggehally R. Srinivas
    • 3
  • Amit K Tiwari
    • 4
  • Robert D. Arnold
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. Jayachandra Babu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Drug Discovery and Development, Harrison School of PharmacyAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA
  2. 2.Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology Department, College of PharmacyTaibah UniversityMedinaSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.Department of Innovation and TechnologyJubilant Life SciencesNoidaIndia
  4. 4.Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of ToledoToledoUSA

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