Vascular Targeting of Radiolabeled Liposomes with Bio-Orthogonally Conjugated Ligands: Single Chain Fragments Provide Higher Specificity than Antibodies

Bioconjug Chem. 2018 Nov 21;29(11):3626-3637. doi: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.8b00564. Epub 2018 Oct 16.


Liposomes are a proven, versatile, and clinically viable technology platform for vascular delivery of drugs and imaging probes. Although targeted liposomes have the potential to advance these applications, complex formulations and the need for optimal affinity ligands and conjugation strategies challenge their translation. Herein, we employed copper-free click chemistry functionalized liposomes to target platelet-endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM-1) and intracellular adhesion molecule (ICAM-1) by conjugating clickable monoclonal antibodies (Ab) or their single chain variable fragments (scFv). For direct, quantitative tracing, liposomes were surface chelated with 111In to a >90% radiochemical yield and purity. Particle size and distribution, stability, ligand surface density, and specific binding to target cells were characterized in vitro. Biodistribution of liposomes after IV injection was characterized in mice using isotope detection in organs and by noninvasive imaging (single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography, SPECT/CT). As much as 20-25% of injected dose of liposomes carrying PECAM and ICAM ligands, but not control IgG accumulated in the pulmonary vasculature. The immunospecificity of pulmonary targeting of scFv/liposomes to PECAM-1 and ICAM-1, respectively, was 10-fold and 2.5-fold higher than of Ab/liposomes. Therefore, the combination of optimal ligands, benign conjugation, and labeling yields liposomal formulations that may be used for highly effective and specific vascular targeting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / metabolism
  • Antibody Specificity*
  • Chelating Agents / chemistry
  • Click Chemistry
  • Copper / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Ligands
  • Liposomes*
  • Mice
  • Pentetic Acid / chemistry
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / metabolism*
  • Single-Chain Antibodies / immunology*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Chelating Agents
  • Ligands
  • Liposomes
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Single-Chain Antibodies
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Copper
  • Pentetic Acid