Chitosan is a natural polymer composed of randomly distributed β-(1-4)-linked D-glucosamine (deacetylated unit) and Nacetyl- D-glucosamine (acetylated unit).
It has been described as a non-toxic, biodegradable and biocompatible polymer with very interesting biological properties, such as permeation-enhancing and mucoadhesive properties, anticoagulant and antimicrobial activity and so on.
Chitosan has been used in several areas such as biomedical, pharmaceutical and biotechnological fields as well as in the food industry.
Recently, there has been a growing interest in the modification of chitosan to improve its solubility in physiological conditions, to introduce new applications or to improve chitosan biological properties.
Research and development on a variety of amphiphilic copolymers containing hydrophobic and hydrophilic segments, have been very active due to their spontaneous self-assembly behaviour in aqueous media These smart transitions often lead to diverse functional compartment structures like micelles, vesicles and gels, which represent promising applications in the field of biotechnology and pharmaceutics.
The aim of the present paper is to review the latest advances in the synthesis of chitosan amphiphilic derivatives with a special emphasis in their applications.