European journal of pharmaceutics and biopharmaceutics : official journal of Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Pharmazeutische Verfahrenstechnik e.V

Impact of atomization technique on the stability and transport efficiency of nebulized liposomes harboring different surface characteristics.

PMID 25460154


The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of nebulization on liposomes with specific surface characteristics by applying three commercially available inhaler systems (air-jet, ultrasonic and vibrating-mesh). Conventional liposome formulations composed of phosphatidylcholine and cholesterol were compared to sterically stabilized PEGylated liposomes and cationic polymer coated liposomes.Liposomes of similar size (between 140 and 165 nm in diameter with polydispersity indices <0.1) were prepared by dry lipid film rehydration followed by size extrusion. Their stability upon nebulization was determined in terms of size, polydispersity index and leakage using a fluorescence quenching system. The transport efficiencies of the nebulizer devices and the influences of both salt and liposomes on the droplet size distribution of the aerosol were investigated. While the droplet size of the aerosol decreased with increasing salt concentration the liposomes had no influence on the droplet size distribution. The output of the nebulizers in terms of liposomal transport efficiencies differed significantly among the nebulizer principles (20–100%, p < 0.05), with the vibrating-mesh nebulizers being the most effective. The integrity of the conventional liposomes was almost unaffected by the atomization process, while polymer coated and especially positively charged liposomes showed enhanced leakage. The release rates for the hydrophilic model drug system were highest for the vibrating-mesh nebulizers regardless of the surface characteristics of the liposomes (increasing from 10% to 20% and 50% for the conventional, PEGylated and positively charged formulations, respectively). In view of surface modified liposomes our data suggest that drug delivery via nebulization necessitates the finding of a compromise between nebulizer efficiency, formulation stability and drug release profile to accomplish the development of tailored formulations suitable for advanced inhalation therapy.