Rate of biodistribution of STEALTH liposomes to tumor and skin: influence of liposome diameter and implications for toxicity and therapeutic activity

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2003 Jan 10;1609(1):102-8. doi: 10.1016/s0005-2736(02)00661-2.


The influence of diameter on the pharmacokinetic and biodistribution of STEALTH liposomes into the tumor (4T1 murine mammary carcinoma) and cutaneous tissues (skin and paws) of mice was studied to ascertain the time course of liposome accumulation and to determine if a preferential accumulation of liposomes into tumor over skin or paws could be achieved by altering liposome size. These tissues were chosen as the dose-limiting toxicity for Caelyx/Doxil in humans is palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia, a cutaneous toxicity. We examined liposomes of four diameters: 82, 101, 154, or 241 nm. Liposomes with the three smallest diameters showed similar accumulation profiles that were significantly higher than the largest liposomes in all three tissues of interest. We were unable to achieve a preferential accumulation of liposomes into tumor over skin or paws based on size alone, as evidenced by the tumor to skin and tumor to paw ratios. However, there were differences in the time courses of liposome accumulation in these three tissues. Liposome levels plateaued in tumors and paws within 24 h, whereas skin levels plateaued between 24 and 48 h. The therapeutic activity of liposomal doxorubicin of three diameters (100, 157, and 255 nm) was tested in the same model. All formulations delayed tumor growth, with liposomes of 100 or 157 nm being equally efficacious and superior to liposomes of 255 nm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Liposomes*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Pharmacokinetics*
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Liposomes