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Thiol-Triggered Release of Intraliposomal Content from Liposomes Made of Extremophile-Inspired Tetraether Lipids


Liposomal drug-delivery systems have been used for delivery of drugs to targeted tissues while reducing unwanted side effects. DOXIL, for instance, is a liposomal formulation of the anticancer agent doxorubicin (DOX) that has been used to address problems associated with nonspecific toxicity of free DOX. However, while this liposomal formulation allows for a more-stable circulation of doxorubicin in the body compared to free drug, the efficacy for cancer therapy is reduced in comparison with systemic injections of free drug. A robust liposomal system that can be triggered to release DOX in cancer cells could mitigate problems associated with reduced drug efficacy. In this work, we present a serum-stable, cholesterol-integrated tetraether lipid comprising of a cleavable disulfide bond, {GcGT(S-S)PC-CH}, that is designed to respond to the reducing environment of the cell to trigger the release intraliposomal content upon cellular uptake by cancer cells. A cell viability assay revealed that DOX- loaded liposomes composed of pure GcGT(S-S)PC-CH lipids were ∼20 times more toxic than DOXIL, with an IC50 value comparable to that of free DOX. The low inherent membrane-leakage properties of GcGT(S-S)PC-CH liposomes in the presence of serum, combined with an intracellular triggered release of encapsulated cargo, represents a promising approach for developing improved drug-delivery formulations for the treatment of cancer and possibly other diseases.

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