Thermosensitive liposomes are clinically-relevant nanocarriers which have been used to deliver chemotherapeutic agents to tumors in combination with local hyperthermia. However, the encapsulation and release of macromolecular therapeutic agents (proteins, nucleic acids, bioactive polymers) is often hindered by their instability during the liposome formation as well as by the low encapsulation efficiency.
The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of the thermosensitive liposomal formulation on the encapsulation and release of low and high molecular weight hydrophilic drugs, in order to identify the key parameters to control during nanocarrier design, depending on the specific drug delivery application.
Thermosensitive liposomes with different formulations were prepared through the combinations of different lipids, including dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC), distearoylphosphatidylcholine (DSPC), cholesterol (Chol), 1-palmitoyl-2-hydroxy-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (P-Lyso-PC), and the PEGylated lipid distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine-N-methoxy(PEG)-2000 (DSPE-PEG2000). The thin film hydration method was used for liposome preparation and loading of different water soluble molecules. The encapsulation efficiency and release profiles were investigated for a low molecular weight compound such as carboxyfluorescein (CF), proteins (albumin), and hydrophilic polymers which do not interact with the lipid bilayer, such as a linear dextran and a poly(ethylene glycol)-based star polymer. An optimised liposomal formulation [DPPC/P-lyso-PC/DSPE-PEG2000 90/10/4 (mol/mol) (LTSL)] was chosen for further application in encapsulating therapeutic proteins, such as lysozyme and the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which are recognized as drug carriers and potential therapeutic agents for kidney diseases and neurological disorders.