Sustained release of an anti-glaucoma drug: demonstration of efficacy of a liposomal formulation in the rabbit eye

PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24513. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024513. Epub 2011 Sep 9.


Topical medication remains the first line treatment of glaucoma; however, sustained ocular drug delivery via topical administration is difficult to achieve. Most drugs have poor penetration due to the multiple physiological barriers of the eye and are rapidly cleared if applied topically. Currently, daily topical administration for lowering the intra-ocular pressure (IOP), has many limitations, such as poor patient compliance and ocular allergy from repeated drug administration. Poor compliance leads to suboptimal control of IOP and disease progression with eventual blindness. The delivery of drugs in a sustained manner could provide the patient with a more attractive alternative by providing optimal therapeutic dosing, with minimal local toxicity and inconvenience. To investigate this, we incorporated latanoprost into LUVs (large unilamellar vesicles) derived from the liposome of DPPC (di-palmitoyl-phosphatidyl-choline) by the film hydration technique. Relatively high amounts of drug could be incorporated into this vesicle, and the drug resides predominantly in the bilayer. Vesicle stability monitored by size measurement and DSC (differential scanning calorimetry) analysis showed that formulations with a drug/lipid mole ratio of about 10% have good physical stability during storage and release. This formulation demonstrated sustained release of latanoprost in vitro, and then tested for efficacy in 23 rabbits. Subconjunctival injection and topical eye drop administration of the latanoprost/liposomal formulation were compared with conventional daily administration of latanoprost eye drops. The IOP lowering effect with a single subconjunctival injection was shown to be sustained for up to 50 days, and the extent of IOP lowering was comparable to daily eye drop administration. Toxicity and localized inflammation were not observed in any treatment groups. We believe that this is the first demonstration, in vivo, of sustained delivery to the anterior segment of the eye that is safe and efficacious for 50 days.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 1,2-Dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine / chemistry
  • Administration, Topical
  • Animals
  • Antihypertensive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Calorimetry, Differential Scanning / methods
  • Conjunctiva / drug effects
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Drug Carriers
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Female
  • Glaucoma / drug therapy*
  • Latanoprost
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry
  • Liposomes / chemistry*
  • Prostaglandins F, Synthetic / administration & dosage*
  • Rabbits


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Drug Carriers
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Liposomes
  • Prostaglandins F, Synthetic
  • 1,2-Dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine
  • Latanoprost