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Petrini, Matteo; Lokerse, Wouter J. M.; Mach, Agnieszka; Hossann, Martin; Merkel, Olivia M. and Lindner, Lars H. (2021): Effects of Surface Charge, PEGylation and Functionalization with Dipalmitoylphosphatidyldiglycerol on Liposome- Cell Interactions and Local Drug Delivery to Solid Tumors via Thermosensitive Liposomes. In: International Journal of Nanomedicine, Vol. 16: pp. 4045-4061

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Purpose: Previous studies demonstrated the possibility of targeting tumor-angiogenic endothelial cells with positively charged nanocarriers, such as cationic liposomes. We investigated the active targeting potential of positively charged nanoparticles in combination with the heat-induced drug release function of thermosensitive liposomes (TSL). This novel dual-targeted approach via cationic TSL (CTSL) was thoroughly explored using either a novel synthetic phospholipid 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphodiglycerol (DPPG(2)) or a conventional polyethylene glycol (PEG) surface modification. Anionic particles containing either DPPG(2) or PEG were also included in the study to highlight difference in tumor enrichment driven by surface charge. With this study, we aim to provide a deep insight into the main differences between DPPG(2)- and PEG-functionalized liposomes, focusing on the delivery of a well-known cytotoxic drug (doxorubicin, DOX) in combination with local hyperthermia (HT, 41-43 degrees C). Materials and Methods: DPPG(2)- and PEG-based cationic TSLs (PG(2)-CTSL/PEGCTSL) were thoroughly analyzed for size, surface charge, and heat-triggered DOX release. Cancer cell targeting and DOX delivery was evaluated by FACS, fluorescence imaging, and HPLC. In vivo particle behavior was analyzed by assessing DOX biodistribution with local HT application in tumor-bearing animals. Results: The absence of PEG in PG(2)-CTSL promoted more efficient liposome-cell interactions, resulting in a higher DOX delivery and cancer cell toxicity compared with PEG-CTSL. By exploiting the dual-targeting function of CTSLs, we were able to selectively trigger DOX release in the intracellular compartment by HT. When tested in vivo, local HT promoted an increase in intratumoral DOX levels for all (C)TSLs tested, with DOX enrichment factors ranging from 3 to 14-fold depending on the type of formulation. Conclusion: Cationic particles showed lower hemocompatibility than their anionic counterparts, which was partially mitigated when PEG was grafted on the liposome surface. DPPG(2)-based anionic TSL showed optimal local drug delivery compared to all other formulations tested, demonstrating the potential advantages of using DPPG(2 )lipid in designing liposomes for tumor-targeted applications.

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