Photoinitiated destabilization of sterically stabilized liposomes

Bruce Bondurant, Anja Mueller, David F. O'Brien

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68 Scopus citations


A considerable effort has been devoted to the development of liposomes for the transport and buffering of drugs in the body. Several research groups have reported the increased localization of sterically stabilized liposomes (PEG-liposomes) at tumor sites. If PEG-liposomes are to be effective carriers of therapeutic agents, their drug permeability must be sufficiently low that little passive release occurs during the circulation time of the PEG-liposomes. However, once PEG-liposomes reach tumor sites, it may be desirable to accelerate the release of the encapsulated drug. The use of light to stimulate the release of encapsulated compounds from liposomes is attractive, because it is possible to control the spatial and temporal delivery of the radiation. PEG-liposomes composed in part of the photosensitive lipid, bis-SorbPC, can be prepared in a manner that effectively encapsulates water soluble compounds, yet releases them upon exposure to ultraviolet light in the presence of oxygen. The observed increase in liposome permeability is about 200-fold at high photoconversion of the monomeric bis-SorbPC. The increase in permeability is dependent on the extent of photolysis, but independent of both the charge on the PEG-lipid and the mole fraction of PEG-lipid included in the liposome. Therefore the photoinitiated destabilization of these PEG-liposomes is not a consequence of micellization of the PEG-lipid, but probably due to the formation of defects in the bilayer during crosslinking of the bis-SorbPC. The photoinduced increase in liposome permeability is great enough to make it possible to release therapeutic agents from PEG-liposomes at specific sites in a manner of tens of minutes to hours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-122
Number of pages10
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 9 2001


  • PEG-liposome
  • Phospholipid
  • Photoinduced leakage
  • Photopolymerization
  • Reactive lipid


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