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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1995 Nov 1;1239(2):133-44.

Attachment of antibodies to sterically stabilized liposomes: evaluation, comparison and optimization of coupling procedures.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


Several coupling methods for binding antibodies (Ab) to liposomes have previously been developed. We were interested in examining if some of these methods would be suitable for attaching Ab to long-circulating formulations of liposomes (SL), sterically stabilized with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG). We studied three 'classical' coupling methods in which Ab was attached at the bilayer surface of SL, and two new coupling methods in which Ab was attached at the PEG terminus. Parameters examined including binding efficiency, antibody surface density, the ability of the immunoliposomes to remote-load the anticancer drug doxorubicin, and the specific binding of the resulting immunoliposomes to target cells. The non-covalent biotin-avidin coupling method resulted in low Ab densities at the cell surface, as did a coupling in method in which maleimide-derivatized Ab was attached to the liposome surface through a thiolated phospholipid incorporated into the liposomes. The low levels of Ab achieved in these method was likely due to interference by PEG with the access of the Ab to the liposome surface. However, when a maleimide-derivatized Ab was coupled to thiolated PEG, moving the coupling reaction away from the liposome surface, very high coupling efficiencies were achieved, and these immunoliposomes achieved good specific binding to their target cells. Oxidizing the Fc region of the Ab and coupling it to the PEG terminus through a hydrazone bond was a less efficient coupling method, but had the advantage of retaining Ab orientation. Efficient remote-loading of doxorubicin was found for immunoliposomes in which Ab was attached at the PEG terminus.

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