Cell penetrating peptides in ocular drug delivery: State of the art

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Despite the increasing number of effective therapeutics for eye diseases, their treatment is still challenging due to the presence of effective barriers protecting eye tissues. Cell Penetrating Peptides (CPPs), synthetic and natural short amino acid sequences able to cross cellular membrane thanks to a transduction domain, have been proposed as possible enhancing strategies for ophthalmic delivery. In this review, a general description of CPPs classes, design approaches and proposed cellular uptake mechanisms will be provided to the reader as an introduction to ocular CPPs application, together with an overview of the main problems related to ocular administration. The results obtained with CPPs for the treatment of anterior and posterior segment eye diseases will be then introduced, with a focus on non-invasive or minimally invasive administration, shifting from CPPs capability to obtain intracellular delivery to their ability to cross biological barriers. The problems related to in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo models used to investigate CPPs mediated ocular delivery will be also addressed together with potential ocular toxicity issues.Graphical abstract

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