How to Achieve High Encapsulation Efficiencies for Macromolecular and Sensitive APIs in Liposomes

Pharmaceutics. 2021 May 11;13(5):691. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics13050691.


This research highlights the capacity of a newly introduced centrifugation process to form liposomes from water-in-fluorocarbon nano-emulsions stabilized with phospholipids to incorporate macromolecular and sensitive active pharmaceutical ingredients (API). The encapsulation efficiency of the produced liposomes, incorporating fluorescein-sodium, bovine serum albumin and fluorecein isothiocyanate dextran as model APIs, is determined by applying Vivaspin® centrifugation filtration and quantified by UV-Vis spectroscopy. It was found that higher densities of the fluorocarbons used as the hydrophobic phase enable a higher encapsulation efficiency and that an efficiency of up to 98% is possible depending on the used phospholipid. Among the engineering aspects of the process, a comparison between different membrane substances was performed. Efficiency increases with a higher phospholipid concentration but decreases with the addition of cholesterol. Due to the higher bending modulus, liposome formation is slowed down by cholesterol during liposome closure leading to a greater leakage of the model API. The encapsulation of bovine serum albumin and dextran, both investigated under different osmotic conditions, shows that an efflux negatively affects the encapsulation efficiency while an influx increases the stability. Overall, the process shows the potential for a very high encapsulation efficiency for macromolecules and future pharmaceutical applications.

Keywords: active pharmaceutical ingredients; encapsulation efficiency; fluorocarbon; liposomes; nano-emulsions; phospholipids.