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Arch Biochem Biophys. 1985 Oct;242(1):240-7.

Preservation of freeze-dried liposomes by trehalose.


One of the practical difficulties with the frequently proposed use of liposomes for delivery of water-soluble substances to cells in whole organisms is that liposomes are relatively unstable during storage. We have studied the ability of trehalose, a carbohydrate commonly found at high concentrations in organisms capable of surviving dehydration, to stabilize dry liposomes. With trehalose both inside and outside the bilayer, almost 100% of trapped solute was retained in rehydrated vesicles previously freeze-dried with 1.8 g trehalose/g dry phospholipid. Trehalose is very effective at inhibiting fusion between liposomes during drying, as assessed by freeze-fracture and resonance energy transfer between fluorescent probes incorporated into the bilayer. However, inhibition of fusion alone does not account for the preservation of the dry liposomes, since the concentration of trehalose required to prevent leakage is more than 10-fold that required to prevent fusion. We provide evidence that stabilization of the dry liposomes requires depression of transition temperature and consequent maintenance of the constituent lipids in the dry liposomes in a liquid crystalline phase.

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