Long circulating liposomes entrapping iodinated and radioiodinated compounds offer a highly versatile theranostic platform. Here we report a new methodology for efficient and high-yielding loading of such compounds into liposomes, enabling CT/SPECT/PET imaging and 131I-radiotherapy. Methods: The CT contrast agent diatrizoate was synthetically functionalized with a primary amine, which enabled its remote loading into PEGylated liposomes by either an ammonium sulfate or a citrate based pH transmembrane gradient. Further, the amino-diatrizoate was radiolabeled with either 124I (t1/2 = 4.18 days) for PET or 125I (t1/2 = 59.5 days) for SPECT, through an aromatic Finkelstein reaction. Results: Quantitative loading efficiencies (>99%) were achieved at optimized conditions. The 124I-labeled compound was remote-loaded into liposomes, with an overall radiolabeling efficiency of 77 ± 1%, and imaged in vivo in a CT26 murine colon cancer tumor model by PET/CT. A prolonged blood circulation half-life of 19.5 h was observed for the radiolabeled liposomes, whereas injections of the free compound were rapidly cleared. Lower accumulation was observed in the spleen, liver, kidney and tumor than what is usually seen for long-circulating liposomes. Conclusion: The lower accumulation was interpreted as release of the tracer from the liposomes within these organs after accumulation. These results may guide the design of systems for controlled release of remote loadable drugs from liposomes.
- Remote loading
- pH-gradient liposomes
- Transmembrane ammonium sulfate
- Iodinated imaging agents
- PET imaging