Microscopic localization of PEG-liposomes in a rat model of focal infection

J Control Release. 2001 Aug 10;75(3):347-55. doi: 10.1016/s0168-3659(01)00402-3.


In the present study the microscopic localization of polyethylene glycol (PEG) liposomes in infected tissues was studied with both light microscopy (LM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in rats with focal intramuscular Staphylococcus aureus infection. PEG-liposomes containing colloidal gold were prepared and injected intravenously in rats with focal S. aureus infection and tissues were dissected at 24 h post injection. Sections were cut and liposomes were visualized for microscopic evaluation using silver enhancement. Uptake of PEG-liposomes was visualized by both scintigraphy and LM in the abscess, liver and spleen. In the infected area, the liposomes were mainly found in the vicinity of blood vessels. TEM showed that the liposomes were localized in the macrophages and to a lesser extent in endothelial cells in the infectious tissue. In the liver, the liposomes appeared mainly localized in Kupffer cells. In the spleen, uptake was only seen in cells of the red pulp and in cells around the central arteries. Our microscopic observations indicate that uptake and retention of PEG-liposomes in the infectious focus is a result of enhanced extravasation due to increased vascular permeability and subsequent phagocytosis of PEG-liposomes by macrophages in the infected tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Drug Carriers
  • Liposomes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacokinetics*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Spleen / metabolism
  • Staphylococcal Infections / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Drug Carriers
  • Liposomes
  • Polyethylene Glycols