Liposomal chemotherapy offers several advantages over conventional therapies, including high intratumoral drug delivery, reduced side effects, prolonged circulation time and the possibility to dose higher. The efficient delivery of liposomal chemotherapeutics relies however on the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect, which refers to the ability of macromolecules to extravasate leaky tumor vessels and accumulate in the tumor tissue. Using a panel of human xenograft tumors, we evaluated the influence of the EPR effect on liposomal distribution in vivo by injection of pegylated liposomes radiolabeled with 111In. Liposomal accumulation in tumors and organs was followed over time by SPECT/CT imaging. We observed that fast growing xenografts, which may be less representative of tumor development in patients, showed higher liposomal accumulation as compared to slow growing xenografts. Additionally, several other parameters determining the EPR effect were evaluated, such as blood and lymphatic vessel density, intratumoral hypoxia, and the presence of macrophages. The investigation of various parameters showed a few correlations. Although hypoxia, proliferation and macrophage presence were associated with tumor growth, no hard conclusions or predictions could be made regarding the EPR effect or liposomal uptake. However liposomal uptake was significantly correlated with tumor growth, with fast growing tumors showing a higher uptake, although no biological determinants could be elucidated to explain this correlation.

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Keywords Animal Imaging, Oncology: Pancreas, SPECT/CT, EPR effect, SPECT, liposomes, nanomedicine
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Journal The Journal of Nuclear Medicine
Bolkestein, M, de Blois, E, Koelewijn, S, Eggermont, A.M.M, Grosveld, F.G, de Jong, M, & Koning, G.A. (2015). Investigation of Factors Determining the Enhanced Permeability and Retention Effect in Subcutaneous Xenografts. The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 2015(December). doi:10.2967/jnumed.115.166173