Nano Research

, Volume 11, Issue 9, pp 4489–4506 | Cite as

Engineering nanoparticles for targeting rheumatoid arthritis: Past, present, and future trends

  • Isabel Matos Oliveira
  • Cristiana Gonçalves
  • Rui Luís Reis
  • Joaquim Miguel Oliveira
Review Article


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by synovial joint inflammation and cartilage and bone tissue destruction. Although there exist some treatment strategies for RA, they are not completely safe and effective. Therefore, it is important to develop and test new drugs for RA that specifically target inflamed/swollen joints and simultaneously attenuate other possible damages to healthy tissues. Nanotechnology can be a good alternative to consider when envisioning precise medication for treating RA. Through the use of nanoparticles, it is possible to increase bioavailability and bioactivity of therapeutics and enable selective targeting to damaged joints. Herein, recent studies using nanoparticles for the treatment of RA, namely with liposomes, polymeric nanoparticles, dendrimers, and metallic nanoparticles, have been reviewed. These therapeutic strategies have shown great promise in improving the treatment over that by traditional drugs. The results of these studies confirm that feasibility of the use of nanoparticles is mainly due to their biocompatibility, low toxicity, controlled release, and selective drug delivery to inflamed tissues in animal RA models. Therefore, it is possible to claim that nanotechnology will, in the near future, play a crucial role in advanced treatments and patient-specific therapies for human diseases such as RA.


nanoparticles liposomes dendrimers rheumatoid arthritis 


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The authors thank the financial support under the ARTICULATE project (No. QREN-13/SI/2011-23189). This study was also funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) project OsteoCart (No. PTDC/CTM-BPC/115977/2009), as well as the European Union’s FP7 Programme under grant agreement no REGPOT-CT2012-316331-POLARIS. The FCT distinction attributed to J. M. O. under the Investigator FCT program (No. IF/00423/2012) is also greatly acknowledged. C. G. also wished to acknowledge FCT for supporting her research (No. SFRH/BPD/94277/2013).

Supplementary material

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Engineering nanoparticles for targeting rheumatoid arthritis: Past, present, and future trends


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Copyright information

© Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabel Matos Oliveira
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cristiana Gonçalves
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rui Luís Reis
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Joaquim Miguel Oliveira
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.3B’s Research Group – Biomaterials, Biodegradables, and BiomimeticsHeadquarters of the European Institute of Excellence on Tissue Engineering and Regenerative MedicineBarco, GuimarãesPortugal
  2. 2.ICVS/3B’s-PT Government Associate LaboratoryUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal
  3. 3.The Discoveries Centre for Regenerative and Precision MedicineHeadquarters at University of MinhoBarco, GuimarãesPortugal

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