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Identification of vesicle properties that enhance the antitumour activity of liposomal vincristine against murine L1210 leukemia

  • Original Articles
  • Vincristine, Liposomes, L1210 Leukemia
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The influence of vesicle lipid composition, size and drug-to-lipid ratio on the antitumour activity of liposomal vincristine was assessed in the murine L1210 ascitic leukemia model. A pH gradient-dependent entrapment procedure was used to encapsulate vincristine and allowed such vesicle properties to be independently varied. Free vincristine delivered i.v. at the maximum tolerated dose (2.0 mg/kg) resulted in a 27.8% increase in the life span (ILS) of mice inoculated i.p. with L1210 cells. Encapsulation of the drug in egg phosphatidylcholine/cholesterol vesicles did not significantly increase the antitumour efficacy of vincristine (ILS, 38.9%). In contrast, administration of vincristine entrapped in vesicles composed of distearoylphosphatidylcholine (DSPC)/cholesterol resulted in ILS values as high as 133%. This enhanced antitumour activity of the DSPC/cholesterol formulations was sensitive to the size of the liposomes; increasing the vesicle size from 100 nm to 1 μm decreased the ILS from 133.3% to 55.6% at a drug dose of 2.0 mg/kg. Decreasing the drug-to-lipid ratio from 0.1∶1 to 0.05∶1 (w/w) had negligible effects on the activity of liposomal vincristine; however, a further decrease in the drug-to-lipid ratio to 0.01∶1 (w/w) decreased the antitumour potency at all drug doses studied. Pharmacology studies indicated that the antitumour activities of free and various liposomal forms of vincristine correlated well with the residence time of the drug in the circulation. These studies indicate that efforts to enhance the therapeutic activity of vincristine through liposome encapsulation must address not only the circulation life-time of the vesicle systems but also the capacity of the liposomes to retain entrapped drug in vivo.

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high-pressure liquid chromatography


multilamellar vesicle


egg phosphatidylcholine








Hanks' balanced salt solution


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This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute of Canada and The Liposome Company, Inc. (Princeton, N.J.), One of the authors (P.R.C.) is a Canadian Medical Research Council Scientist, and another (M.B.B.), is a B.C. Health Research Foundation Scholar

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Mayer, L.D., Nayar, R., Thies, R.L. et al. Identification of vesicle properties that enhance the antitumour activity of liposomal vincristine against murine L1210 leukemia. Cancer Chemother. Pharmacol. 33, 17–24 (1993).

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