Characterization of spherulites as a lipidic carrier for low and high molecular weight agents

Peng Zhang, Yixian Huang, Alexander M. Makhov, Xiang Gao, Peijun Zhang, Song Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose: To develop spherulite formulations to achieve high entrapment efficiency for both small and macromolecules as well as cell-type specific delivery. Methods: Spherulites of various compositions were prepared, and lipid-PEG was incorporated through post-insertion. Calcein and FITC-labeled albumin were employed as model drugs for small and macromolecules. The spherulites were characterized with respect to entrapment efficiency, size, structure, and release kinetics, and the morphology was examined via cryo-EM. Finally, SV119-decorated spherulites were examined for their selective uptake by cancer cells. Results: The spherulites are 170 ~ 290 nm in size. A loading efficiency of 55 ~ 60% can be consistently achieved for both calcein and albumin under optimized conditions. Cryo-EM shows the onion-like morphology consistent with the structure of multilamellar liposomes. A t1/2 of 39.3 h and 69.7 h in cargo release in serum was observed before and after PEG decoration, and incorporation of SV119 led to selective delivery of rhodamine-labeled spherulites to PC-3 tumor cells. Conclusions: Our optimized formulations may represent a platform with simple preparation approach, relatively small particle size, high drug loading efficiency for both low and high molecular weight agents, and slow release kinetics for selective delivery of various types of therapeutics to target cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1525-1535
Number of pages11
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • cryo-electron microscopy
  • entrapment efficiency
  • multilamellar liposomes
  • spherulites
  • targeted drug delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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