Pharmacokinetics of temoporfin-loaded liposome formulations: Correlation of liposome and temoporfin blood concentration

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Abstract

Liposomal formulations of the highly hydrophobic photosensitizer temoporfin were developed in order to overcome solubility-related problems associated with the current therapy scheme. We have incorporated temoporfin into liposomes of varying membrane composition, cholesterol content, and vesicle size. Specifically, two phosphatidyl oligoglycerols were compared to PEG2000-DSPE with respect to the ability to prolong circulation half life of the liposomal carrier. We measured the resulting pharmacokinetic profile of the liposomal carrier and the incorporated temoporfin in a rat model employing a radioactive lipid label and 14C-temoporfin. The data for the removal of liposomes and temoporfin were analyzed in terms of classical pharmacokinetic theory assuming a two-compartment model. This model, however, does not allow in a straightforward manner to distinguish between temoporfin eliminated together with the liposomal carrier and temoporfin that is first transferred to other blood components (e. g. plasma proteins) before being eliminated from the blood. We therefore additionally analyzed the data based on two separate one-compartment models for the liposomes and temoporfin. The model yields the ratio of the rate constant of temoporfin elimination together with the liposomal carrier and the rate constant of temoporfin elimination following the transfer to e. g. plasma proteins. Our analysis using this model demonstrates that a fraction of temoporfin is released from the liposomes prior to being eliminated from the blood. In case of unmodified liposomes this temoporfin release was observed to increase with decreasing bilayer fluidity, indicating an accelerated temoporfin transfer from gel-phase liposomes to e. g. plasma proteins. Interestingly, liposomes carrying either one of the three investigated surface-modifying agents did not adhere to the tendencies observed for unmodified liposomes. Although surface-modified liposomes exhibited improved pharmacokinetic properties with regard to the liposomal carrier, an enhanced temoporfin loss and elimination from the PEGylated-liposomes was observed. This effect was more pronounced for PEGylated liposomes than for the two oligo-glycerols. Our combined experimental–theoretical approach for in vivo plasma re-distribution of liposomal drugs may help to optimize colloidal drug carrier systems.

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