Send to

Choose Destination
Pharm Res. 2012 Aug;29(8):2236-48. doi: 10.1007/s11095-012-0752-2. Epub 2012 Apr 28.

Controlled nucleation of lipid nanoparticles.

Author information

Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.



We describe a nucleation-based method which allows for the generation of monodisperse lipid nanoparticles over a range of diameters. Using a set of novel zwitterionic lipids and inverse phosphocholine lipids with pKas ranging from 2 to 5, we showed how the hydrodynamic diameter of lipid nanoparticles can be systematically manipulated over a 60 nm to 500 nm size range.


Lipid nanoparticles were prepared by adding an anti-solvent, such as water, to the organic phase containing the lipid components. This led to super-saturation and the spontaneous formation of particles.


The growth and final particle size was controlled by the ratio of the components in the ternary system: lipid, organic solvent and aqueous phase. Particles with diameter below 125 nm were formed under conditions where the super-saturation coefficient was between 2.3 and 20. PEG-lipid served as an efficient growth inhibitor except at very high and low lipid concentrations. Encapsulation efficiency of siRNA into lipid nanoparticles was shown to be pH-dependent and requires the protonation of the anionic carboxylate groups of the zwitterionic lipids, emphasizing the importance of electrostatic forces.


This process enables high encapsulation efficiency of nucleic acids and allows the size of lipid nanoparticles to be controlled.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center