An in vitro assay based on surface plasmon resonance to predict the in vivo circulation kinetics of liposomes

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The adsorption of blood proteins onto liposomes and other colloidal particles is an important process influencing the circulation time. Proteins adsorbed to the surface of liposomes can mediate recognition of the liposomes by macrophages of the reticuloendothelial system (RES) facilitating their clearance from the circulation. Coating liposomes with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) decreases the blood clearance considerably, most likely due to reduced protein adsorption and/or liposome aggregation. By using the relation between clearance and protein binding, the present study introduces an in vitro assay measuring interactions of liposomes with proteins to predict their blood clearance in vivo. Such assay is valuable since it limits time and costs, and importantly reduces the number of animals required for pharmacokinetic investigations of new formulations. In the current study, Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) and fluorescence Single Particle Tracking (fSPT) were used to study liposome–protein interactions and blood induced liposome aggregation in vitro. By means of SPR the interactions between proteins and liposomes coated with PEG of different molecular weights and at different densities (PEG2000 in 2.5%, 5% and 7%; PEG5000 in 0.5%, 1.5% and 2.5%), were measured for several plasma proteins: human serum albumin (HSA), apolipoprotein E (ApoE), α2-macroglobulin (α2-M), β2-glycoprotein (β2-G) and fibronectin (Fn). Liposomes coated with PEG interacted less with all proteins, an effect which increased with the PEG surface density. In parallel, fSPT analysis showed that the exposure of liposomes to full blood did not change the liposome size, indicating that aggregation is not a strong attributive factor in the clearance of these liposomes. In addition, the SPR measurements of the interactions between liposomes and proteins were correlated with the blood clearance of the liposomes. For each protein, the degree of protein–liposome interaction as determined by SPR showed a moderate to strong positive correlation with the clearance of the liposome type.

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