Differential uptake of liposomes varying in size and lipid composition by parenchymal and kupffer cells of mouse liver

Life Sci. 1982 Nov 8;31(19):2061-71. doi: 10.1016/0024-3205(82)90098-4.


Using liposomes differing in size and lipid composition, we have studied the uptake characteristics of the liver parenchymal and Kupffer cells. Desferal labeled with iron-59 was chosen as a radiomarker for the liposomal content, because Desferal in its free form does not cross cellular membranes. At various time intervals after an intravenous injection of liposomes into mice, the liver was perfused with collagenase, and the cells were separated in a Percoll gradient. It was found that large multilamellar liposomes (diameter of about 0.5 micron) were mainly taken up by the Kupffer cells. For these large liposomes, the rate of uptake by Kupffer cells was rapid, with maximum uptake at around 2 hours after liposome injection. Unexpectedly, small unilamellar liposomes (diameter of about 0.08 micron) were less effectively taken up by Kupffer cells, and the rate of uptake was slow, with a maximum uptake at about 10 hours after liposome injection. In contrast, parenchymal cells were more effective in taking up small liposomes and the uptake of large liposomes was negligible. In addition, liposomes made with a galactolipid as part of the lipid constituents appeared to have higher affinity to parenchymal cells than liposomes made without the galactolipid. These findings should be of importance in designing suitable liposomes for drug targeting.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebrosides / physiology*
  • Female
  • Galactosylceramides / physiology*
  • Kinetics
  • Kupffer Cells / physiology*
  • Liposomes / metabolism*
  • Liver / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Particle Size


  • Cerebrosides
  • Galactosylceramides
  • Liposomes