In efforts to enhance the activity of liposomal drugs against solid tumors, three novel lipids that carry imidazole-based headgroups of incremental basicity were prepared and incorporated into the membrane of PEGylated liposomes containing doxorubicin (DOX) to render pH-sensitive convertible liposomes (ICL). The imidazole lipids were designed to protonate and cluster with negatively charged phosphatidylethanolamine-polyethylene glycol when pH drops from 7.4 to 6.0, thereby triggering ICL in acidic tumor interstitium. Upon the drop of pH, ICL gained more positive surface charges, displayed lipid phase separation in TEM and DSC, and aggregated with cell membrane-mimetic model liposomes. The drop of pH also enhanced DOX release from ICL consisting of one of the imidazole lipids, sn-2-((2,3-dihexadecyloxypropyl)thio)-5-methyl-1H-imidazole. ICL demonstrated superior activities against monolayer cells and several 3D MCS than the analogous PEGylated, pH-insensitive liposomes containing DOX, which serves as a control and clinical benchmark. The presence of cholesterol in ICL enhanced their colloidal stability but diminished their pH-sensitivity. ICL with the most basic imidazole lipid showed the highest activity in monolayer Hela cells; ICL with the imidazole lipid of medium basicity showed the highest anticancer activity in 3D MCS. ICL that balances the needs of tissue penetration, cell-binding, and drug release would yield optimal activity against solid tumors.
Imidazole-Based pH-Sensitive Convertible Liposomes for Anticancer Drug Delivery.
Pharmaceuticals, 15(3), 1–23.
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