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Flow Cytometry as a New Approach To Investigate Drug Transfer between Lipid Particles

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journal contribution
posted on 05.04.2010, 00:00 by Silvia Petersen, Alfred Fahr, Heike Bunjes
Lipid nanoparticles and liposomal carrier systems are of growing interest for intravenous drug delivery due to their biocompatibility and targetability. It is, however, difficult to investigate their release behavior for lipophilic drugs under physiological conditions. This study describes a novel flow cytometric method studying drug transfer from such carrier systems to particles simulating physiological receptor sites. For this purpose, liquid and solid trimyristin nanoparticles or soybean phospholipid liposomes were loaded with the lipophilic fluorescent substances Nile red, temoporfin, and DiI. The transfer of these model drugs to large emulsion droplets was examined by flow cytometry. Transfer of DiI to differently sized acceptor emulsions was also monitored by separating donor and acceptor particles using ultracentrifugation. Flow cytometry revealed a completion of transfer within a few minutes for Nile red and temoporfin at considerable amounts of transferred dye. In contrast, the highly lipophilic DiI transferred over a period of weeks only for a small percentage of the dye. Ultracentrifugation results confirmed this for DiI and indicated a dependence of transfer characteristics on the acceptor surface area. Nile red transfer into a bulk oil phase as alternative acceptor system was also very slow. Flow cytometry seems to be well suited to study the intrinsic transfer of fluorescent lipophilic substances, as no kinetic hindrances like dialysis bags nor separation steps are required. Additional detailed experiments will, however, be necessary to elucidate the prevalent transfer mechanisms completely.