The objective of this study is to clarify to what extent the accumulation of liposomes from the blood into the tumor and bone marrow can be controlled by liposome size and membrane fluidity. Liposomes with different diameters (50-400 nm) and different membrane fluidity were prepared from hydrogenated egg phosphatidylcholine (HEPC) or egg phosphatidylcholine (EPC), cholesterol (Ch) and dicetylphosphate in various molar ratios. These liposomes were injected intravenously into rats bearing Yoshida sarcoma, and the ratios of the accumulation of liposomes in the tumor to those in the bone marrow, liver and spleen were compared. The tumor-to-bone marrow accumulation ratio increased with the decrease in liposome size from 400 to 50 nm, This ratio was greater than those for the liver and spleen at all sizes, Although tumor-to-liver accumulation ratios of 50- and 100-nm HEPC-containing liposomes were higher than those of EPC-containing liposomes, no obvious difference in tumor-to-bone marrow or tumor-to-spleen accumulation ratios was found between these liposomes, Tumor-to-bone marrow accumulation ratio of HEPC-containing liposomes increased remarkably with the decrease in Ch content from 40 to 30 or 20 mol% compared with ratios for the liver and spleen. Interestingly, the tumor uptake clearance of liposomes of the same size was constant regardless of their membrane fluidity. These findings show that the increases in these accumulation ratios are due to their decreased uptake clearance by the bone marrow. Furthermore, the uptake of 50-nm HEPC-containing liposomes by the bone marrow was specifically inhibited by preinjection of other liposomes, but not when they were exposed in advance to in vivo components. These observations suggest the involvement of in vivo component(s) in the uptake of these liposomes by the bone marrow. We conclude that small HEPC-liposomes with low Ch content show their significantly decreased uptake by the bone marrow due to their decreased recognition by this tissue.
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