The effect of reticuloendothelial blockade on the blood clearance and tissue distribution of liposomes

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1981 May 18;674(3):354-71. doi: 10.1016/0304-4165(81)90366-4.


The blood clearance and tissue distribution of liposomes have been studied in mice subjected to reticuloendothelial blockade with dextran sulphate or carbon. The liposomes have been labelled in the lipid membranes with [3H]-cholesterol, [14C]phosphatidylcholine and/or 99mTc and the content with [14C]inulin. Reticuloendothelial blockade has been shown to slow the rate of clearance of neutral, positively and negatively charged liposomes and of both small unilamellar vesicles and large multilamellar vesicles. In normal animals, the liver uptake accounted for only 20-55% of the total injected radioactivity, the amount varying with the charge and size of the liposomes. Following blockade, the liver uptake of charged and neutral multilamellar liposomes was depressed. This was also true for negatively charged small unilamellar vesicles. The degree of depression of hepatic uptake was between 25-50%, which contrasts with the 80-90% reduction in uptake of a wholly phagocytosed particle (sheep red cells). This difference suggests that mechanisms other than Kupffer cell phagocytosis are also responsible for the normal uptake of liposomes into the liver. In the case of neutral and positively charged small unilamellar vesicles, delayed clearance due to blockade was not associated with 'depressed' hepatic uptake. The site of action of blockading agents for these preparations is not clear. With all preparations of liposomes, blockade produced a slight and variable increase in uptake in the lung and spleen. The alteration of distribution of liposomes by reticuloendothelial blockade is therefore not great and the value of the technique in modifying the tissue distribution of substances within liposomes may be limited.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Dextran Sulfate
  • Dextrans / pharmacology*
  • Inulin / metabolism*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Liposomes*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mononuclear Phagocyte System / drug effects
  • Mononuclear Phagocyte System / physiology*
  • Phosphatidylcholines / metabolism*
  • Spleen / metabolism
  • Technetium / metabolism
  • Tritium


  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Dextrans
  • Liposomes
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Tritium
  • Technetium
  • Inulin
  • Dextran Sulfate
  • Cholesterol