Drug release rate influences the pharmacokinetics, biodistribution, therapeutic activity, and toxicity of pegylated liposomal doxorubicin formulations in murine breast cancer

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 May 27;1663(1-2):167-77. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2004.03.006.


The pharmacokinetics (PK), biodistribution (BD), and therapeutic activity of pegylated liposomal doxorubicin formulations with different drug release rates were studied in an orthotopic 4T1 murine mammary carcinoma model. The focus of these experiments was to study the effects of different release rates on the accumulation of liposomal lipid and doxorubicin (DXR) into the tumor and cutaneous tissues of mice (skin and paws). These tissues were chosen because the clinical formulation of pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (Caelyx)/Doxi) causes mucocutaneous reactions such as palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia (PPE). Liposomes with different doxorubicin (DXR) leakage rates were prepared by altering liposome fluidity through changing the fatty acyl chain length and/or degree of saturation of the phosphatidylcholine component of the liposome. Liposomes with fast, intermediate, and slow rates of drug release were studied. The plasma PK of the liposomal lipid was similar for all formulations, while the plasma PK of the DXR component was dependent on the liposome formulation. Liposomal lipid accumulated to similar levels in tumor and cutaneous tissues for all three formulations tested, while the liposomes with the slowest rates of DXR release produced the highest DXR concentrations in both cutaneous tissues and in tumor. Liposomes with the fastest drug release rates resulted in low DXR concentrations in cutaneous tissues and tumor. The formulation with intermediate release rates produced unexpected toxicity that was not related to the lipid content of the formulation. The liposomes with the slowest rate of drug leakage had the best therapeutic activity of the formulations tested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / blood
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / chemistry
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / pharmacology*
  • Area Under Curve
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Doxorubicin / blood
  • Doxorubicin / chemistry
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Half-Life
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Liposomes / chemistry*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Phosphatidylcholines / chemistry
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transition Temperature


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Liposomes
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Doxorubicin