In this study, we reviewed state-of-the-art endogenous-based and exogenous-based stimuli-responsive drug delivery systems (DDS) for programmed site-specific release to overcome the drawbacks of conventional therapeutic modalities. This particular work focuses on the smart chemistry and mechanism of action aspects of several types of stimuli-responsive polymeric carriers that play a crucial role in extracellular and intracellular sections of diseased tissues or cells. With ever increasing scientific knowledge and awareness, research is underway around the globe to design new types of stimuli (external/internal) responsive polymeric carriers for biotechnological applications at large and biomedical and/or pharmaceutical applications, in particular. Both external/internal and even dual/multi-responsive behavior of polymeric carriers is considered an essential element of engineering so-called ‘smart’ DDS, which controls the effective and efficient dose loading, sustained release, individual variability, and targeted permeability in a sophisticated manner. So far, an array of DDS has been proposed, developed, and implemented. For instance, redox, pH, temperature, photo/light, magnetic, ultrasound, and electrical responsive DDS and/or all in all dual/dual/multi-responsive DDS (combination or two or more from any of the above). Despite the massive advancement in DDS arena, there are still many challenging concerns that remain to be addressed to cover the research gap. In this context, herein, an effort has been made to highlight those concerning issues to cover up the literature gap. Thus, the emphasis was given to the drug release mechanism and applications of endogenous and exogenous based stimuli-responsive DDS in the clinical settings.
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