Endosomal escape by photo-activated fusion of liposomes containing a malachite green derivative: a novel class of photoresponsive liposomes for drug delivery vehicles
We conducted photo-activated delivery of drugs based on the fusion of liposomes with endocytic membranes, thus allowing the direct release of encapsulated drugs inside the cytoplasm. As described in our earlier works, liposomes can be photoresponsive and fusogenic following the incorporation of a malachite green derivative carrying a long alkyl chain (MGL) into the lipid membrane. We prepared MGL liposomes using 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine and encapsulated doxorubicin (DOX). Though the shape of MGL liposomes became elliptical after encapsulating DOX, UV irradiation did not enhance DOX leakage from MGL liposomes. We demonstrated the cellular uptake of MGL liposomes into murine cells derived from colon cancer (Colon 26 cells) using flow cytometry, and we found that the uptake was governed by a clathrin-dependent endocytosis pathway. Confocal fluorescence microscopic observations of Colon 26 cells treated with MGL liposomes encapsulating DOX revealed that DOX was localized in endosomes under dark conditions, while DOX was observed in the cytosol and nucleus after UV irradiation. The viability of Colon 26 cells treated with MGL liposomes encapsulating DOX was reduced by UV irradiation, indicating photo-induced enhancement of anti-cancer efficacy.