Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the usefulness of transferrin (TF)-pendant-type polyethyleneglycol (PEG)-liposomes (TF-PEG-liposomes), in which TF was covalently linked to the distal terminal of PEG chains on the external surface of PEG-liposomes as a carrier for in vivo cytoplasmic targeting to tumor cells.
Methods: Small unilamellar TF-PEG-liposomes (100-140 nm in diameter) were prepared from DSPC, CH, DSPE-PEG, and DSPE-PEG-COOH (2:1:0.11:0.021, molar ratio), and were conjugated to TF via the carboxyl residue of DSPE-PEG-COOH. The intracellular targeting ability of TF-PEG-liposomes to tumor cells was examined in vitro and in Colon 26 tumor-bearing mice.
Results: TF-PEG-liposomes, bearing approximately 25 TF molecules per liposome, readily bound to mouse Colon 26 cells in vitro and were internalized by receptor-mediated endocytosis. TF-PEG-liposomes showed a prolonged residence time in the circulation and low RES uptake in Colon 26 tumor-bearing mice, resulting in enhanced extravasation of the liposomes into the solid tumor tissue. Electron microscopic studies in Colon 26 tumor-bearing mice revealed that the extravasated TF-PEG-liposomes were internalized into tumor cells by receptor-mediated endocytosis.
Conclusion: TF-PEG-liposomes had the capabilities of specific receptor binding and receptor-mediated endocytosis to target cells after extravasation into solid tumors in vivo. Such liposomes should be useful for in vivo cytoplasmic targeting of chemotherapeutic agents or plasmid DNAs to target cells.