Pharmaceutical Research

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 402–406

Enhanced Hepatic Uptake of Liposomes Through Complement Activation Depending on the Size of Liposomes


  • Hideyoshi Harashima
    • Faculty of Pharmaceutical SciencesThe University of Tokushima
  • Kazuya Sakata
    • Faculty of Pharmaceutical SciencesThe University of Tokushima
  • Kouichi Funato
    • Faculty of Pharmaceutical SciencesThe University of Tokushima
  • Hiroshi Kiwada
    • Faculty of Pharmaceutical SciencesThe University of Tokushima

DOI: 10.1023/A:1018965121222

Cite this article as:
Harashima, H., Sakata, K., Funato, K. et al. Pharm Res (1994) 11: 402. doi:10.1023/A:1018965121222


The objective of this study was to differentiate the roles of opsonins and phagocytic cells in the size-dependent hepatic uptake of liposomes in the submicron region. The extent of opsonization decreased with the decrease in size of liposomes (from 800 to 200 nm in diameter) and no enhancement of uptake was observed at 200 nm. There was no effect of liposome size on the uptake of unopsonized liposomes. Serum was pretreated with empty liposomes of each size and its opsonic activity was measured in the perfused liver. The small liposomes could not consume the opsonic activity, while the larger ones did so substantially. These results suggest that opsonins bind to liposomes depending on the size of liposomes and phagocytic cells take up liposomes in proportion to the extent of opsonization. Size-dependent liposome degradation in serum was also found, which was consistent with the size-dependent complement activation, because liposomes with this composition have been shown to be degraded by complement. The mechanism of opsonization was examined by treating serum at 56°C for 30 min or with anti-C3 antiserum. Since both treatments inhibited the opsonic activity, the hepatic uptake of liposomes is considered to occur via complement receptor. In conclusion, the size of liposomes affected complement recognition, and the liposomes were taken up by the liver depending on the extent of opsonization.


Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994