Tuning Liposome Composition to Modulate the Corona Forming in Human Serum and Uptake by Cells


Nano-sized objects such as liposomes are modified by adsorption of biomolecules in biological fluids. The resulting corona critically changes nanoparticle behavior at cellular level. A better control of corona composition could allow to modulate uptake by cells. Within this context, in this work, liposomes of different charge were prepared by mixing negatively charged and zwitterionic lipids to different ratios. The series obtained was used as a model system with tailored surface properties to modulate corona composition and determine the effects on liposome interactions with cells. Uptake efficiency and uptake kinetics of the different liposomes were determined by flow cytometry and fluorescence imaging. Particular care was taken in optimizing the methods to isolate the corona forming in human serum to prevent liposome agglomeration and to exclude residual free proteins which could confuse the results. Thanks to the optimized methods, mass spectrometry of replicate corona isolations showed excellent reproducibility and this allowed semi-quantitative analysis to determine for each formulation the most abundant proteins in the corona. The results showed that by changing the fraction of zwitterionic and charged lipids in the bilayer, the amount and identity of the most abundant proteins adsorbed from serum differed. Interestingly, the formulations also showed very different uptake kinetics. Similar approaches can be used to tune lipid composition in a systematic way in order to obtain formulations with the desired corona and cell uptake behavior.