Immunoliposomes for Targeted Delivery of an Antifibrotic Drug

Immunoliposomes for Targeted Delivery of an Antifibrotic Drug
Schuster L, Seifert, O, Vollmer S, Kontermann RE, Schlosshauer B, Hartmann H
Mol Pharm. 2015 Sep 8;12(9):3146-57. doi: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.5b00012. Epub 2015 Jul 28.

Excessive extracellular matrix formation in organs and tissues arises from an imbalance between the synthesis and degradation of matrix proteins, especially collagen. This condition interferes with proper wound healing and regeneration, and to date, no specific treatment is available. In the present study, we propose a targeted drug delivery system consisting of cell-specific immunoliposomes (ILs) loaded with deferoxamine (DFO) as an antifibrotic drug. ILs were functionalized with polyethylene glycol (PEG) to improve the steric stability and prolong their half-life. In addition, a single-chain Fv (scFv) antibody fragment that specifically targets fibroblast activation protein (FAP) was incorporated. An in vitro fibrosis model was employed to test this construct. This model consisted of highly activated pro-fibrotic fibroblasts with 2- to 6-fold induction of selected fibrosis markers: cell/matrix deposited collagen I, total soluble collagen, and α smooth muscle actin. The activation was accompanied by a significant and cell-specific elevation of FAP expression and activity, thereby confirming that FAP is an adequate target for antifibrotic drug delivery. Purified anti-FAP scFv was shown to bind specifically to these cells without influencing the FAP enzymatic activity. DFO was demonstrated to have a dose-dependent antifibrotic activity as quantified by collagen deposition. Specific binding and intracellular uptake of DiI-labeled ILs into the activated fibroblasts were shown by flow cytometry and microscopy. Finally, DFO-loaded ILs targeted to FAP caused a significant reduction in the collagen deposition, whereas no effect was observed using liposomes that lacked the targeting antibody fragment. These results suggest that the FAP-specific scFv-conjugated liposomes have considerable potential for cell-specific targeting applicable as a therapy for excessive collagen deposition during fibrosis. In general, through liposome encapsulation, bioactive molecules, such as DFO, that have broad effects and poor cell penetration can be converted into cell-specific composites for targeted drug delivery.