Pegylated liposomal doxorubicin: proof of principle using preclinical animal models and pharmacokinetic studies

Semin Oncol. 2004 Dec;31(6 Suppl 13):16-35. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2004.08.002.


Encapsulation of doxorubicin in polyethylene glycol-coated liposomes (Doxil/Caelyx [PLD]), was developed to enhance the safety and efficacy of conventional doxorubicin. The liposomes alter pharmacologic and pharmacokinetic parameters of conventional doxorubicin so that drug delivery to the tumor is enhanced while toxicity normally associated with conventional doxorubicin is decreased. In animals and humans, pharmacokinetic advantages of PLD include an increased area under the plasma concentration-time curve, longer distribution half-life, smaller volume of distribution, and reduced clearance. In preclinical models, PLD produced remission and cure against many cancers including tumors of the breast, lung, ovaries, prostate, colon, bladder, and pancreas, as well as lymphoma, sarcoma, and myeloma. It was also found to be effective as adjuvant therapy. In addition, it was found to cross the blood-brain barrier and induce remission in tumors of the central nervous system. Increased potency over conventional doxorubicin was observed and, in contrast to conventional doxorubicin, PLD was equally effective against low- and high-growth fraction tumors. The combination of PLD with vincristine or trastuzumab resulted in additive effects and possible synergy. PLD appeared to overcome multidrug resistance, possibly as the result of increased intracellular concentrations and an interaction between the liposome and P-glycoprotein function. On the basis of pharmacokinetic and preclinical studies, PLD, either alone or as part of combination therapy, has potential applications to treat a variety of cancers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage*
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / pharmacokinetics
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology
  • Cetuximab
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage*
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacokinetics
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • Liposomes / pharmacokinetics
  • Models, Animal
  • Trastuzumab


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Liposomes
  • Doxorubicin
  • Trastuzumab
  • Cetuximab