Biodistribution and clearance of intra-articular liposomes in a large animal model using a radiographic marker

Scott Holtoum Edwards, Martin .A Cake, Gerard Spoelstra, Richard .A Read

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41 Citations (Scopus)


The intra-articular (IA) route of administration in treating arthritis has potential for targeting drug delivery to affected tissues, thereby minimising the attendant side-effects of systemically administered drugs. The ultra-structure of the synovium however facilitates rapid drug efflux from the joint; effectively the IA route is equivalent to other non-IV parenteral routes with regards absorption and redistribution into the systemic circulation. The aim of this study was to extend the drug residence time within the knee joint by using a liposome formulation. DPPC-based liposomes were prepared with the radio contrast agent iohexol as a drug marker. 8 sheep had their right knees injected IA with iohexol liposomes and the contralateral joints with either free iohexol or empty liposomes. Joints were radiographed at multiple time points up to 16 days post-injection. Iohexol-mediated radiopacity was quantified by densitometer. Sheep were sacrificed at the end of the study for microscopy of synovial tissues. Good visualization of iohexol-mediated radiopacity with fine anatomical definition was possible throughout the experiment. Also evident on the films was extra-articular radiopacity with liposomes tracking along muscle facial planes. Cellular and tissue localization with light microscopy was possible through use of frozen sections and because of the large liposome size. Residence of encapsulated iohexol within the knee joint was greatly prolonged. Liposomal iohexol declined bi-exponentially with a terminal elimination half-life of 134 hours. In contrast, free iohexol was undetectable at 3 hours post-injection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-261
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Liposome Research
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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