Drug nanocrystals precipitated inside liposomes are of increasing interest in liposomal drug delivery. For liposomal nanocrystal formulations, the size and shape of the drug nanocrystals can influence the apparent drug release properties, providing opportunities for developing tailored liposomal drug release systems. Small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and quantitative transmission electron microscopy (TEM) can be used to analyse the size distributions of the nanoparticles. In this study, by changing the fluidity of the membrane through the use of different membrane phospholipids with varying cholesterol content, the impact of lipid phase, fluidity and permeability on the size distribution of ciprofloxacin nanocrystals were investigated using standard TEM and SAXS as orthogonal techniques. The results show that the phospholipid phase behaviour has a direct effect on the nanocrystal size distribution, where shorter and thinner nanocrystals were formed in liposomes made from hydrogenated soy phosphatidylcholine (HSPC) and 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) phospholipids with higher phase transition temperatures than 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC) and 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC) with lower transition temperatures. This is mainly due to the phase behaviour of the liposome during nanocrystal formation. The addition of cholesterol that reduces fluidity and permeability of the DOPC liposomes was also shown to restrict the growth of the ciprofloxacin nanocrystals. Moreover, increasing the drug loading of the liposomes made from HSPC and DPPC produced longer and wider nanocrystals. The findings open new opportunities to tailor nanocrystal size distributions, as well as the aspect ratio of the enclosing liposomes with potential to alter drug release and in vivo behaviour.
- Aspect ratio