Coencapsulation of irinotecan and floxuridine into low cholesterol-containing liposomes that coordinate drug release in vivo

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Mar;1768(3):678-87. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2006.11.014. Epub 2006 Dec 6.


A liposomal delivery system that coordinates the release of irinotecan and floxuridine in vivo has been developed. The encapsulation of floxuridine was achieved through passive entrapment while irinotecan was actively loaded using a novel copper gluconate/triethanolamine based procedure. Coordinating the release rates of both drugs was achieved by altering the cholesterol content of distearoylphosphatidylcholine (DSPC)/distearoylphosphatidylglycerol (DSPG) based formulations. The liposomal retention of floxuridine in plasma after intravenous injection was dramatically improved by decreasing the cholesterol content of the formulation below 20 mol%. In the case of irinotecan, the opposite trend was observed where increasing cholesterol content enhanced drug retention. Liposomes composed of DSPC/DSPG/Chol (7:2:1, mole ratio) containing co-encapsulated irinotecan and floxuridine at a 1:1 molar ratio exhibited matched leakage rates for the two agents so that the 1:1 ratio was maintained after intravenous administration to mice. The encapsulation of irinotecan was optimal when copper gluconate/triethanolamine (pH 7.4) was used as the intraliposomal buffer. The efficiency of irinotecan loading was approximately 80% with a starting drug to lipid molar ratio of 0.1/1. Leakage of floxuridine from the liposomes during irinotecan loading at 50 degrees C complicated the ability to readily achieve the target 1:1 irinotecan/floxuridine ratio inside the formulation. As a result, a procedure for the simultaneous encapsulation of irinotecan and floxuridine was developed. This co-encapsulation method has the advantage over sequential loading in that extrusion can be performed in the absence of chemotherapeutic agents and the drug/drug ratios in the final formulation can be more precisely controlled.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / blood
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / chemistry*
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / pharmacokinetics
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / blood
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacokinetics
  • Camptothecin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Camptothecin / blood
  • Camptothecin / chemistry
  • Camptothecin / pharmacokinetics
  • Cholesterol / chemistry
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Compounding
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Female
  • Floxuridine / blood
  • Floxuridine / chemistry*
  • Floxuridine / pharmacokinetics
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Irinotecan
  • Liposomes*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Drug Combinations
  • Liposomes
  • Floxuridine
  • Irinotecan
  • Cholesterol
  • Camptothecin