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J Colloid Interface Sci. 2006 Aug 1;300(1):7-19. Epub 2006 Apr 3.

Sequestration of amitriptyline by liposomes.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


We study the uptake of amitriptyline, which is a common cause of overdose-related fatalities, in aqueous solutions by 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC) liposomes and liposomes composed of a mixture of DMPC and 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-[phospho-rac(1-glycerol)] (DOPG) lipids. The effect of drug concentration, liposomal charge, pH, salt, and protein presence on the drug uptake is investigated using two different methodologies, a precipitation and a centrifugation method. Furthermore, the time scale of the drug uptake is studied through qualitative observations at high pH and through conductivity measurements at neutral pH and found to be <5 s. The results of the quantitative studies show that the fractional drug uptake decreases with increasing drug concentration, and for a given concentration it increases with the pH and decreases in the presence of salt. We find that a larger amount of drug is sequestered by negatively charged liposomes (those containing DOPG) than liposomes with no net charge (DMPC). We speculate that the mechanism of drug uptake is due to both electrostatic interactions as well as hydrophobic effects. The fractional uptake by DMPC:DOPG in a 70:30 ratio is as high as 95% in water and about 90% in physiological buffer. The fractional uptake is also measured in presence of 2% (w/w) bovine serum albumin (BSA), which is approximately the protein concentration in the intercellular fluid. In presence of protein the fractional uptakes by 70:30 DMPC:DOPG liposomes and 50:50 DMPC:DOPG liposomes are 82 and 90%, respectively, at 125 muM drug amitriptyline. In the absence of liposomes, 67% of the drug is taken up by the protein in a 2% (w/w) BSA, 125 muM amitriptyline solution. Thus, addition of 50:50 DMPC:DOPG liposomes reduces the free drug concentration by a factor of about 3.5, making them attractive candidates for drug detoxification.

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