Background: The use of non-invasive inhaled aerosols for pulmonary drug delivery continues to grow. This is due to the many unique advantages this delivery route offers for the treatment of both local and systemic diseases. The physicochemical properties of the formulated drugs as well as the physiology of the lungs play a key role in both the deposition and absorption of the particles. The airway and the alveolar epithelium are targets for the treatment of respiratory diseases. However, particles have to overcome biological barriers before they reach their target and produce an effect. Methods: In vitro aerosol dispersion performance (i.e. aerodynamic size and aerodynamic size distribution) of inhalable particles is quantified by inertial impaction, as required by regulatory agencies for an investigational pharmaceutical inhalation aerosol formulation to be approved for use in patients as a marketed pharmaceutical product. Using inertial impaction in conjunction with cell cultures of various pulmonary cells in situ as bioimpactors has unique aspects in correlating aerodynamic properties with pulmonary cellular behavior including viability and uptake. These can be as co-culture or in single culture, as 3-D multicellular spheroids or 2-D cellular monolayer using different conditions to grow them, such as air-liquid interface culture (ALI) or in liquid covered culture (LCC). Results: evaluation of the currently available in vitro models and the challenges in developing reliable cellular tools to predict the deposition of inhalable particles in the lungs as a function of aerodynamic particle properties is presented in the manuscript. Conclusion: The mechanistic aerodynamic and biophysical properties of inhaled aerosol particles on the entire respiratory tract at the cellular level based on aerodynamic size and aerodynamic size distribution will be better understood with the development of in vitro methods which are described in this work.
Keywords: Pulmonary delivery, aerosol deposition, lung cell culture, air-liquid interface (ALI) culture, liquid covered culture (LCC), multistage cascade impactors, two-dimensional culture, three-dimensional culture.