Targeted delivery and triggered release of liposomal doxorubicin enhances cytotoxicity against human B lymphoma cells

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2001 Dec 1;1515(2):144-58. doi: 10.1016/s0005-2736(01)00409-6.


Dioleoylphosphatidylethanolamine (DOPE)-containing liposomes that demonstrated pH-dependent release of their contents were stabilized in the bilayer form through the addition of a cleavable lipid derivative of polyethylene glycol (PEG) in which the PEG was attached to a lipid anchor via a disulfide linkage (mPEG-S-S-DSPE). Liposomes stabilized with either a non-cleavable PEG (mPEG-DSPE) or mPEG-S-S-DSPE retained an encapsulated dye at pH 5.5, but treatment at pH 5.5 of liposomes stabilized with mPEG-S-S-DSPE with either dithiothreitol or cell-free extracts caused contents release due to cleavage of the PEG chains and concomitant destabilization of the DOPE liposomes. While formulations loaded with doxorubicin (DXR) were stable in culture media, DXR was rapidly released in human plasma. pH-Sensitive liposomes, targeted to the CD19 epitope on B-lymphoma cells, showed enhanced DXR delivery into the nuclei of the target cells and increased cytotoxicity compared to non-pH-sensitive liposomes. Pharmacokinetic studies suggested that mPEG-S-S-DSPE was rapidly cleaved in circulation. In a murine model of B-cell lymphoma, the therapeutic efficacy of an anti-CD19-targeted pH-sensitive formulation was superior to that of a stable long-circulating formulation of targeted liposomes despite the more rapid drug release and clearance of the pH-sensitive formulation. These results suggest that targeted pH-sensitive formulations of drugs may be able to increase the therapeutic efficacy of entrapped drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD19 / chemistry
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage*
  • Doxorubicin / chemistry
  • Doxorubicin / metabolism
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use
  • Drug Carriers
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Liposomes / chemistry*
  • Lymphoma / drug therapy
  • Lymphoma / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, SCID
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antigens, CD19
  • Drug Carriers
  • Liposomes
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Doxorubicin