Characterization of nebulized liposomal amikacin (Arikace) as a function of droplet size

J Aerosol Med Pulm Drug Deliv. 2008 Sep;21(3):245-54. doi: 10.1089/jamp.2008.0686.


The stress of nebulization has been shown to alter the properties of liposomal drugs. What has not been demonstrated is whether nebulized liposomes differ as a function of droplet size. Because droplet size influences lung deposition, liposomes with different properties could be deposited in different areas of the lung (e.g., central vs. peripheral). In this report, a liposomal amikacin formulation (Arikace, a registered trademark of Transave, Inc., Monmouth Junction, NJ) that is being developed as an inhaled treatment for gram negative infections was aerosolized with an eFlow (registered trademark of PARI, GmbH, Munich, Germany) nebulizer, reclaimed from the various stages of an Andersen cascade impactor (ACI) and analyzed for lipid-to-drug (L/D) (w/w) ratio, amikacin retention, and liposome size. For the nebulized solution, 99.7% of the total deposited drug was found on ACI stages 0 through 5, which have cutoff diameters of 9, 5.8, 4.7, 3.3, 2.1, and 1.1 microm, respectively. Properties were found to differ for drug reclaimed on stage 0 compared stages 1-5, which were not different from one another. For drug found on stages 1-5 (97% of total drug), the averages (n = 3) for L/D, percent encapsulated amikacin, and liposome mean diameter ranged from 0.59 to 0.68 (w/w), 71% to 75%, 248 to 282 nm, respectively. Drug found on stage 0 (2.8% of total drug) had an average L/D ratio of 0.51 and average liposome mean diameter of 375 nm. Examination of another batch of liposomal amikacin revealed no statistically significant differences between drug reclaimed on stages 0-5. Although a droplet size dependence was noted for one batch of Arikace aerosolized with the eFlow, the effect was considered to be inconsequential because the fraction in doubt represented nonrespirable particles >9 microm and accounted for <3% of the total deposited dose. The methodology applied here appears useful in evaluating aerosolized liposome systems. However, our results should not be assumed to apply to other liposome/drug compositions and nebulizers.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Amikacin / administration & dosage*
  • Amikacin / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Equipment Design
  • Liposomes
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers
  • Particle Size


  • Aerosols
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Liposomes
  • Amikacin