Tuning liposome composition to modulate corona formation in human serum and cellular uptake

Keni Yang, Bárbara Mesquita, Peter Horvatovich, Anna Salvati*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
238 Downloads (Pure)


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. Statement of Significance Liposomes and other nano-sized objects when introduced in biological fluids are known to adsorb biomolecules forming the so-called nanoparticle corona. This layer strongly affects the subsequent interactions of liposomes with cells. Here, by tuning lipid composition in a systematic way, a series of liposomes with tailored surface properties has been prepared to modulate the corona forming in human serum. Liposomes with very different cellular uptake kinetics have been obtained and their corona was identified in order to determine the most enriched proteins on the different formulations. By combining corona composition and uptake kinetics candidate corona proteins associated with reduced or increased uptake by cells can be identified and the liposome formulation can be tuned to obtain the desired uptake behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-327
Number of pages14
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Early online date17-Feb-2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2020


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