Keratin-based nanoparticles as drug delivery carriers

Claudia Ferroni, Greta Varchi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Keratin is a structural protein of mammalian tissues and birds, representing the principal constituent of hair, nails, skin, wool, hooves, horns, beaks, and feathers, and playing an essential role in protecting the body from external harassment. Due to its intrinsic features such as biocompatibility, biodegradability, responsiveness to specific biological environment, and physical–chemical properties, keratin has been extensively explored in the production of nanocarriers of active principles for different biomedical applications. In the present review paper, we aimed to give a literature overview of keratin-based nanoparticles produced starting from human hair, wool, and chicken feathers. Along with the chemical and structural description of keratin nanoparticles, selected in vitro and in vivo biological data are also discussed to provide a more comprehensive framework of possible fields of application of this protein. Despite the considerable number of papers describing the production and use of keratin nanoparticles as carries of anticancer and antimicrobial drugs or as hemostatic and wound healing materials, still, efforts are needed to implement keratin nanoparticles towards their clinical application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9417
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 2 2021


  • Chicken feathers keratin
  • Drug delivery
  • Human hair keratin
  • Nanoparticles preparation
  • Tumor-responsiveness
  • Water purification
  • Wool keratin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Instrumentation
  • Engineering(all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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