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J Liposome Res. 2012 Jun;22(2):110-9. doi: 10.3109/08982104.2011.627514. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Preparation and in vitro evaluation of a folate-linked liposomal curcumin formulation.

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School of Pharmacy, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China.


Curcumin (CUR), a plant-derived compound, exhibits versatile antitumor effects. However, its poor hydrophilic property limits its application. To circumvent these drawbacks, we encapsulated CUR in liposomes modified with folic acid for better solubility and enhanced tumor targeting. This novel formulation was prepared by a film-dispersion method and characterized by size, zeta potential, drug-loading efficiency, and physical-condition stability. In vitro, cellular uptake efficiency, cytotoxicity, and apoptosis analysis by flow cytometry were performed to evaluate tumor targeting and killing ability. Results showed that the folate-receptor (FR)-targeted liposomal CUR (F-CUR-L) performed with improved solubility, sufficient stability, and enhanced antitumor activity. Mean diameter, zeta potential, and drug-loading efficiency were 182 nm, -26 mV, and 68%, respectively, and this formulation exhibited stability in storage at 4 °C for 1 month. In vitro, FR-positive cells endocytosed more F-CUR-L than nontargeted liposomal CUR (CUR-L); thus, the former induced more cellular proliferation inhibition and higher apoptosis than the latter, and the enhanced targeting could be hindered by 1 mM of free folic acid. Further, KB cells were more sensitive to F-CUR-L, compared to Hela cells. Finally, the two kinds of tumor cells treated with F-CUR-L also showed dose- and time-dependent apoptosis.

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