Preparation of liposomes containing small gold nanoparticles using electrostatic interactions

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The development of liposome-nanoparticle colloid systems offers a versatile approach towards the manufacture of multifunctional therapeutic platforms. A strategy to encapsulate small metallic nanoparticles (<4 nm) within multilamellar vesicles, effected by exploiting electrostatic interactions was investigated. Two liposome-gold nanoparticle (lipo-GNP) systems were prepared by the reverse-phase evaporation method employing cationic or anionic surface functionalised particles in combination with oppositely charged lipid compositions with subsequent post-formulation PEGylation. Structural characterisation using electron microscopy and elemental analysis revealed a regular distribution of GNPs between adjacent lipid bilayers of intact liposomes. Nanoparticle encapsulation efficacy of the two lipo-GNP systems was revealed to be significantly different (p = 0.03), evaluated by comparing the ratio of measured lipid to gold concentration (loading content) determined by a colorimetric assay and atomic emission spectroscopy, respectively. It was concluded that the developed synthetic strategy is an effective approach for the preparation of liposome-nanoparticle colloids with potential to control the relative concentration of encapsulated particles to lipids by providing favourable electrostatic interactions.

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