Lecithins and Phospholipids

What are Lecithins and Phospholipids?

Lecithins are a mixture of lipids which contain minimum of 50% polar lipids. These polar lipids (phospholipids) are the active ingredients of lecithin and impart to it the properties which make it suitable for use. Phospholipids are lipids containing phosphorus, a polar head and nonpolar tails. They are essential lipids of biological membranes. Based on their amphiphilic character, phospholipids are used as emulsifiers, wetting agents, solubilizers & liposomes due to their property of self assembly. Phospholipids play functional roles in various health segments.

Understanding Phospholipids

  • Cells are surrounded by a bilayer of polar lipids called ‘Phospholipids’.
  • They are most essential lipids of all biological membranes.
  • Classified by US FDA as Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS), natural (non chemical) origin.
  • Diverse applications.

Biochemical Significance

  • Play an important role for signal transduction cascades in nerve cells.
  • High propensity as drug carriers and excellent biocompatibility.
  • Used for therapeutic agents who have poor bioavailability, rapid clearance and toxic effects.
  • Phospholipid based drug delivery systems have proved to be more efficient and provide appropriate systemic effect.
  • They act as surface-active wetting agents in pleura and alveoli of lung, pericardium, joints etc.

Physiological Properties

  • They assemble the circulating lipoproteins, which mainly transport lipophilic triglycerides and cholesterols through blood.
  • Together with cholesterols and bile acids form mixed micelles to enhance absorption of fat soluble substances in gallbladder.

Toxic Effects

  • Classified by US FDA as Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) at all concentrations.
  • Natural (non chemical) origin.
  • Non Genetically Modified (non-GMO) and non-allergen grades available.
  • Phospholipid based drug delivery systems have proved to be more efficient and provide appropriate systemic effect.

Aid in Formulation Development

  • Emerging platform for drug delivery due to their amphiphilic character.
  • Facilitate the absorption of drugs
  • Improves the bioavailability of drugs
  • Ideal for drugs with poor solubility and permeability (BCS class III, IV)
  • Improves the physical characteristics resulting into more convenient and effective functionalized product for the consumer.
  • Reduces toxic effects of drugs

Routes of Administration

  • Oral
  • Pulmonary
  • Topical
  • Rectal
  • Parenteral