Novel methods of enhanced retention in and rapid, targeted release from liposomes

Joseph A. Zasadzinski, Benjamin Wong, Natalie Forbes, Gary Braun, Guohui Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Liposomes are single bilayer capsules with distinct interior compartments in which hydrophilic drugs, imaging agents, diagnostics, etc. can be sequestered from the exterior environment. The polar parts of the individual lipids face the water compartments, while the hydrophobic parts of the lipid provide a barrier in which hydrophilic or charged molecules are poorly soluble. Hydrophobic molecules can be dissolved within the bilayer. The bilayers are typically from 3 to 6 nm thick and the liposome can range from about 50 nm to 50. μm in diameter. The question asked in this review is if any one bilayer, regardless of its composition, can provide the extended drug retention, long lifetime in the circulation, active targeting to specific tissues and rapid and controllable drug release at the site of interest. As an alternative, we review methods of self-assembling multicompartment lipid structures that provide enhanced drug retention in physiological environments. We also review the methods of externally targeting and triggering drug release via the near infrared heating of gold nanoshells attached to or encapsulated within bilayer vesicles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-214
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIH grants HL080718 and EB012637 . The author thanks M. Sailor, D. Lapotko, C. Li and F. Caruso for the generous use of their figures in this review.


  • Cancer chemotherapy
  • Doxorubicin delivery
  • Hollow gold nanoshells
  • Phospholipids
  • SiRNA delivery
  • Sphingomyelins
  • Surface plasmon resonance


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