Ligand liposomes and boron neutron capture therapy

J Neurooncol. Mar-Apr 2003;62(1-2):47-59. doi: 10.1007/BF02699933.


Boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) has been used both experimentally and clinically for the treatment of gliomas and melanomas, with varying results. However, the therapeutic effects on micro-invasive tumor cells are not clear. The two drugs that have been used clinically, p-boronophenylalanine, (BPA), and the sulfhydryl borane, (BSH), seem to be taken up preferentially in solid tumor areas but it is uncertain whether enough boron is taken up by micro-invasive tumor cells. To increase the selective uptake of boron by such cells, would be to exploit tumor transformation related cellular changes such as over-expression of growth factor receptors. However, the number of receptors varies from small to large and the uptake of large amounts of boron for each receptor interaction is necessary in order to deliver sufficient amounts of boron. Therefore, each targeting moiety must deliver large number of boron atoms. One possible way to meet these requirements would be to use receptor-targeting ligand liposomes, containing large number of boron atoms. This will be the subject of this review and studies of boron containing liposomes, with or without ligand, will be discussed. Two recent examples from the literature are ligand liposomes targeting either folate or epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors on tumor cells. Other potential receptors on gliomas include PDGFR and EGFRvIII. Besides the appropriate choice of target receptor, it is also important to consider delivery of the ligand liposomes, their pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics and cellular processing, subjects that also will be discussed in this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology
  • Boron Compounds / administration & dosage*
  • Boron Compounds / pharmacokinetics
  • Boron Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Boron Neutron Capture Therapy / methods*
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Folate Receptors, GPI-Anchored
  • Glioma / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Liposomes / pharmacokinetics
  • Liposomes / therapeutic use
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Receptors, Cell Surface*


  • Boron Compounds
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Folate Receptors, GPI-Anchored
  • Ligands
  • Liposomes
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Epidermal Growth Factor