Liposome-protein corona in a physiological environment: challenges and opportunities for targeted delivery of nanomedicines

Nanomedicine. 2015 Apr;11(3):543-57. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2014.11.003. Epub 2014 Dec 30.


Active targeting that exploits the (over)expression of surface receptors in target cells by ligand incorporation is a central concept in nanomedicine research. Despite unprecedented efforts, no targeted liposome-based therapeutics is commercially available for clinical practice. What is inhibiting the efficient translation of targeted liposome technology from bench to bedside? After introduction in the bloodstream, the lipid surface is immediately modified by the adsorption of a "protein corona" and preserving the surface functionality appears to be challenging. On the other hand, a long-standing corona with receptor-binding sites could associate with the target cell long enough to activate the cell's uptake machinery, triggering liposome endocytosis and intracellular cargo delivery. This opens the intriguing possibility to manipulate the corona composition by liposome design. This review will focus on the emerging field of liposome-protein corona research from basic, descriptive research to readily applicable knowledge and technologies for implementation in drug improvement and development. From the clinical editor: This review is addressing the liposome protein corona research concerning the potential gains in drug improvement and for drug development.

Keywords: Liposomes; Protein corona; Targeting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins / chemistry*
  • Liposomes / chemistry*
  • Liposomes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Liposomes / therapeutic use*
  • Nanomedicine / methods*


  • Lipoproteins
  • Liposomes