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Tuning the MR properties of blood-stable pH-responsive paramagnetic liposomes.

International journal of pharmaceutics (2004-04-10)
Knut-Egil Løkling, Roald Skurtveit, Knut Dyrstad, Jo Klaveness, Sigrid L Fossheim

Paramagnetic pH-responsive liposomes have recently been suggested as a promising approach for monitoring by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) pH changes in tumours. In the present study, the effects of variations in bilayer composition on the relaxometric properties of diacylphosphatidylethanolamine (PE)/dipalmitoylglycerosuccinate (DPSG) liposomal GdDTPA-BMA were investigated both in buffer and blood. A factorial experimental design was used with the variables PE chain length and mol% DPSG. All the relaxometric profiles displayed a semi-sigmoidal shape with a minimum plateau at high pH (r1(min)) and a maximum at low pH (r1(max,E)). Relevant sigmoidal curve fit parameters were evaluated by partial least squares regression. Systematic variations in the relaxometric response (r1(max,E)-r1(min)) were shown for the liposomal systems both in buffer and blood. The pH value at which the r1 was 20% of r1(max,E) relative to r1(min), i.e. pH20, decreased significantly both in buffer and blood as a function of the mol% DPSG. This phenomenon could be understood by the increased surface charge density with increasing mol% DPSG and, hence, higher barrier against liposome aggregation with consequent leakage of contrast agent. Furthermore, the pH relaxometric profiles in blood were shifted laterally to higher, and likely more clinically relevant pH values than the corresponding profiles in buffer. The liposome formulations displayed minimal leakage of contrast agent after prolonged incubation in blood at physiological pH and retained their pH sensitivity after pre-incubation in blood.