Influence of dose on liposome clearance: critical role of blood proteins

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1996 May 22;1281(1):31-7. doi: 10.1016/0005-2736(96)00003-x.


It is well established that the circulation half-life of liposomes increases with increasing dose. This effect is commonly attributed to "saturation' of the fixed and free macrophages of the reticuloendothelial system resulting in reduced clearance rates. However, it is also known that the clearance rate of liposomes is dependent on the amount of associated blood protein, leading to the possibility that dose-dependent increases in circulation lifetimes could be due to decreases in the amount of blood protein associated per liposome. In order to test this hypothesis, the protein binding and clearance properties of large unilamellar liposomes composed of distearoylphosphatidylcholine/cholesterol and egg phosphatidylcholine/dioleoylphosphatidic acid/cholesterol were examined in mice. Liposomes were injected over a dose range of 10 to 1000 mg lipid/kg body weight, and the circulation lifetime and liver and spleen accumulation monitored. As expected, longer circulation half-lives were observed at higher doses for both liposome compositions. However, it was also found that at higher liposome doses, significantly less protein was bound per liposome. The results indicate that there is a limited pool of blood proteins that is able to interact with liposomes of a given composition. At higher lipid doses these blood proteins are distributed over more liposomes resulting in lower protein binding values and longer circulation lifetimes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Half-Life
  • Liposomes / metabolism
  • Liposomes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Mice
  • Phosphatidic Acids / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylcholines / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Spleen / metabolism


  • Blood Proteins
  • Liposomes
  • Phosphatidic Acids
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • dioleoylphosphatidic acid
  • Cholesterol
  • 1,2-distearoyllecithin