Formulation and efficacy of liposome-encapsulated antibiotics for therapy of intracellular Mycobacterium avium infection

Y. K. Oh, D. E. Nix, R. M. Straubinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Mycobacterium avium is an intracellular pathogen that can invade and multiply within macrophages of the reticuloendothelial system. Current therapy is not highly effective. Particulate drug carriers that are targeted to the reticuloendothelial system may provide a means to deliver antibiotics more efficiently to M. avium-infected cells. We investigated the formulation of the antibiotics ciprofloxacin and azithromycin in liposomes and tested their antibacterial activities in vitro against M. avium residing within J774, a murine macrophage-like cell line. A conventional passive.entrapment method yielded an encapsulation efficiency of 9% for ciprofloxacin and because of aggregation mediated by the cationic drug, was useful only with liposomes containing ≤50 mol% negatively charged phospholipid. In contrast, ciprofloxacin was encapsulated with >90% efficiency, regardless of the content of negatively charged lipids, by a remote-loading technique that utilized both pH and potential gradients to drive drug into preformed liposomes. Both the cellular accumulation and the antimycobacterial activity of ciprofloxacin increased in proportion to the liposome negative charge; the maximal enhancement of potency was 43-fold in liposomes of distearoylphosphatidylglycerol-cholesterol (DSPG-Chol) (10:5). Azithromycin liposomes were prepared as a freeze-dried preparation to avoid chemical instability during storage, and drug could be incorporated at 33 mol% (with respect to phospholipid). Azithromycin also showed enhanced antimycobacterial effect in liposomes, and the potency increased in parallel to the moles percent of negatively charged lipids; azithromycin in DSPG-Chol (10:5) liposomes inhibited intracellular M. avium growth 41-fold more effectively than did free azithromycin. Thus, ciprofloxacin or azithromycin encapsulated in stable liposomes having substantial negative surface charge is superior to nonencapsulated drug in inhibition of M. avium growth within cultured macrophages and may provide more effective therapy of M. avium infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2104-2111
Number of pages8
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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