Interferon production of L929 and HeLa cells enhanced by polyriboinosinic acid-polyribocytidylic acid pH-sensitive liposomes

Bioconjug Chem. Sep-Oct 1992;3(5):402-7. doi: 10.1021/bc00017a008.


The double-stranded RNA polyinosinic acid-polycytidylic acid (PolyIC) is an inducer of interferons alpha and beta (IFN) genes. With L929 and HeLa cells IFN pretreatment (priming) improves the IFN induction by PolyIC by several orders of magnitude. In the absence of the priming we demonstrate that PolyIC encapsulated into pH-sensitive liposomes (and not into pH-insensitive liposomes) enables L929 cells to secrete IFN efficiently and a low toxicity is observed; on primed cells pH-sensitive liposomes containing PolyIC trigger a high toxicity. With HeLa cells, the absence of the priming PolyIC encapsulated into pH-sensitive liposomes induces weak doses of IFN whereas free PolyIC was ineffective. Our experiments established that a pH drop (from 8 to 5.5) provoked a lipid mixing between pH-sensitive liposomes and cell membranes, likely by a fusion mechanism. Entrapment into pH-sensitive liposomes enhances the effect of PolyIC by several orders of magnitude, which might improve its therapeutic ability as an antitumor or anti-HIV agent.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Drug Carriers
  • HeLa Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Interferon-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Interferon-alpha / metabolism
  • Interferon-beta / biosynthesis
  • Interferon-beta / metabolism
  • Interferons / biosynthesis*
  • Interferons / metabolism
  • L Cells / metabolism*
  • Liposomes
  • Mice
  • Poly I-C / administration & dosage*
  • Poly I-C / toxicity
  • Ribonucleases / pharmacology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Drug Carriers
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Liposomes
  • Interferon-beta
  • Interferons
  • Ribonucleases
  • Poly I-C