The effects of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) chain length of PEG-lipid on the membrane characteristics of liposomes were investigated by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), freeze-fracture electron microscopy (FFEM), fluorescence polarization measurement and permeability measurement using carboxyfluorescein (CF). PEG-liposomes were prepared from mixtures of dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine (DPPC) and distearoyl phosphatidylethanolamines with covalently attached PEG molecular weights of 1000, 2000, 3000 and 5000 (DSPE-PEG). DSC and FFEM results showed that the addition of DSPE-PEG to DPPC in the preparation of liposomes caused the lateral phase separation both in the gel and liquid-crystalline states. The fluidity in the hydrocarbon region of liposomal bilayer membranes was not significantly changed by the addition of DSPE-PEG, while that in the interfacial region was markedly increased. From these results, it was anticipated that the CF leakage from PEG-liposomes is accelerated compared with DPPC liposomes. However, CF leakage from liposomes containing DSPE-PEG with a 0.060 mol fraction was depressed compared with regular liposomes, and the leakage decreased with increasing PEG chain length. Furthermore, the CF leakage from liposomes containing DSPE-PEG with a 0.145 mol fraction was slightly increased compared with that of liposomes containing DSPE-PEG with a 0.060 mol fraction. It is suggested that the solute permeability from the PEG-liposomes was affected by not only properties of the liposomal bilayer membranes such as phase transition temperature, phase separation and membrane fluidity, but also the PEG chain of the liposomal surface.
2003 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan