Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 27986226
Drug Discov Today Technol 2016 Jun;20:59-69
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) represents a major obstacle for the delivery and development of drugs curing brain pathologies. However, this biological barrier presents numerous endogenous specialized transport systems that can be exploited by engineered nanoparticles to enable drug delivery to the brain. In particular, conjugation of glutathione (GSH) onto PEGylated liposomes (G-Technology(®)) showed to safely enhance delivery of encapsulated drugs to the brain. Yet, understanding of the mechanism of action remains limited and full mechanistic understanding will aid in the further optimization of the technology. In order to elucidate the mechanism of brain targeting by GSH-PEG liposomes, we here demonstrate that the in vivo delivery of liposomal ribavirin is increased in brain extracellular fluid according to the extent of GSH conjugation onto the liposomes. In vitro, using the hCMEC/D3 human cerebral microvascular endothelial (CMEC) cell line, as well as primary bovine and porcine CMEC (and in contrast to non-brain derived endothelial and epithelial cells), we show that liposomal uptake occurs through the process of endocytosis and that the brain-specific uptake is also glutathione conjugation-dependent. Interestingly, the uptake mechanism is an active process that is temperature-, time- and dose-dependent. Finally, early endocytosis events rely on cytoskeleton remodeling, as well as dynamin- and clathrin-dependent endocytosis pathways. Overall, our data demonstrate that the glutathione-dependent uptake mechanism of the G-Technology involves a specific endocytosis pathway indicative of a receptor-mediated mechanism, and supports the benefit of this drug delivery technology for the treatment of devastating brain diseases.