Purpose: Compare pharmacokinetics of tumor-directed immunoliposomes in healthy and tumor-bearing rats (hepatic colon cancer metastases).
Methods: A tumor cell-specific monoclonal antibody was attached to polyethyleneglycol-stabilized liposomes, either in a random orientation via a lipid anchor (MPB-PEG-liposomes) or uniformly oriented at the distal end of the PEG chains (Hz-PEG-liposomes). Pharmacokinetics and tissue distribution were determined using [3H]cholesteryloleylether or bilayer-anchored 5-fluoro[3H]deoxyuridine-dipalmitate ([3H]FUdR-dP) as a marker.
Results: In healthy animals clearance of PEG-(immuno)liposomes was almost log-linear and only slightly affected by antibody attachment; in tumor-bearing animals all liposomes displayed biphasic clearance. In normal and tumor animals blood elimination increased with increasing antibody density; particularly for the Hz-PEG-liposomes, and was accompanied by increased hepatic uptake, probably due to increased numbers of macrophages induced by tumor growth. The presence of antibodies on the liposomes enhanced tumor accumulation: uptake per gram tumor tissue (2-4% of dose) was similar to that of liver. Remarkably, this applied to tumor-specific and irrelevant antibody. Increased immunoliposome uptake by trypsin-treated Kupffer cells implicated involvement of high-affinity Fc-receptors on activated macrophages.
Conclusions: Tumor growth and immunoliposome characteristics (antibody density and orientation) determine immunoliposome pharmacokinetics. Although with a long-circulating immunoliposome formulation, efficiently retaining the prodrug FUdR-dP, we achieved enhanced uptake by hepatic metastases, this was probably not mediated by specific interaction with the tumor cells, but rather by tumor-associated macrophages.