In situ gelling drug delivery systems have gained enormous attention over the last decade. They are in a sol-state before administration, and they are capable of forming gels in response to different endogenous stimuli, such as temperature increase, pH change and the presence of ions. Such systems can be administered through different routes, to achieve local or systemic drug delivery and can also be successfully used as vehicles for drug-loaded nano-and microparticles. Natural, synthetic and/or semi-synthetic polymers with in situ gelling behavior can be used alone, or in combination, for the preparation of such systems; the association with mucoadhesive polymers is highly desirable in order to further prolong the residence time at the site of action/absorption. In situ gelling systems include also solid polymeric formulations, generally obtained by freeze-drying, which, after contact with biological fluids, undergo a fast hydration with the formation of a gel able to release the drug loaded in a controlled manner. This review provides an overview of the in situ gelling drug delivery systems developed in the last 10 years for non-parenteral administration routes, such as ocular, nasal, buccal, gastrointestinal, vaginal and intravesical ones, with a special focus on formulation composition, polymer gelation mechanism and in vitro release studies.
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