Lipid nanoparticles assessment by flow cytometry

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Liposomes are promising carriers for drugs and bioactive compounds. Size and structure are their crucial parameters. Thus, it is essential to assess individual vesicles as prepared. Currently available techniques fail to measure liposome’s size and structure simultaneously, with a high throughput. To solve this problem, we have developed a novel, flow cytometric method quantifying liposomes.


Firstly, the following fluorescent staining combinations were tested: DiD/TO, Rh123/DiD, Syto9/DiD. Further, chosen fluorochromes were used to compare three populations of vesicles: raw (R), obtained by thin film hydration and extruded ones (populations E10 and E21). Dynamic light scattering (DLS) was used for determination of average diameter and size distribution of nanocarriers. Structural differences between the raw and the extruded liposomes, as well as additional information concerning vesicles size were acquired employing atomic force microscopy (AFM).


DLS analysis indicated that, three distinct populations of vesicles were obtained. Liposomes were characterized by mean diameter of 323 nm, 220 nm and 170 nm for population R, E10 and E21 respectively. All the populations were stable and revealed zeta potential of -29 mV. AFM confirmed that raw and extruded liposomes were differed in structure.

Conclusions and general significance:

DiD/TO was the optimal fluorochrome combination that enabled to resolve distinctly the sub-populations of liposomes. Results obtained by flow cytometry were in a good agreement with those from DLS and AFM. It was proved that, flow cytometry, when proper fluorescent dyes are used, is an adequate method for liposomes assessment. The proposed method enables fast and reliable analysis of liposomes in their native environment.

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