, Volume 30, Issue 7, pp 1883-1895
Date: 11 May 2013

Improving Intracellular Doxorubicin Delivery Through Nanoliposomes Equipped with Selective Tumor Cell Membrane Permeabilizing Short-Chain Sphingolipids

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Abstract

Purpose

To improve nanoliposomal-doxorubicin (DoxNL) delivery in tumor cells using liposome membrane-incorporated short-chain sphingolipids (SCS) with selective membrane-permeabilizing properties. DoxNL bilayers contained synthetic short-chain derivatives of known membrane microdomain-forming sphingolipids; C8-glucosylceramide (C8-GluCer), C8-galactosylceramide (C8-GalCer) or C8-lactosylceramide (C8-LacCer).

Methods

DoxNL enriched with C8-GluCer or C8-GalCer were developed, optimized and characterized with regard to size, stability and drug retention. In vitro cytotoxic activity was studied in a panel of human tumor cell lines and normal cells. Intracellular Dox delivery was measured by flow cytometry and visualized by fluorescence microscopy. For a further understanding of the involved drug delivery mechanism confocal microscopy studies addressed the cellular fate of the nanoliposomes, the SCS and Dox in living cells.

Results

C8-LacCer-DoxNL aggregated upon Dox loading. In tumor cell lines SCS-DoxNL with C8-GluCer or C8-GalCer demonstrated strongly increased Dox delivery and cytotoxicity compared to standard DoxNL. Surprisingly, this effect was much less pronounced in normal cells. Nanoliposomes were not internalized, SCS however transfered from the nanoliposomal bilayer to the cell membrane and preceded cellular uptake and subsequent nuclear localization of Dox.

Conclusion

C8-GluCer or C8-GalCer incorporated in DoxNL selectively improved intracellular drug delivery upon transfer to tumor cell membranes by local enhancement of cell membrane permeability.