Liposomal encapsulation of dexamethasone modulates cytotoxicity, inflammatory cytokine response, and migratory properties of primary human macrophages

M. Bartneck, F.M. Peters, K.T. Warzecha, M. Bienert, L. van Bloois, C. Trautwein, Twan Gerardus Gertudis Maria Lammers, F. Tacke

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The encapsulation of drugs into liposomes aims to enhance their efficacy and reduce their toxicity. Corticosteroid-loaded liposomes are currently being evaluated in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, colitis, and cancer. Here, using several different fluorophore-labeled formulations, we comprehensively studied the impact of liposome encapsulation of the prototypic corticosteroid dexamethasone on various primary human cells in vitro. Liposomal dexamethasone targeted several primary cell types in a dose and time-dependent manner, but specifically reduced cytotoxicity against human fibroblasts and macrophages in comparison to the solute drug. Furthermore, macrophage maturation and polarization markers were altered. Interestingly, liposomal dexamethasone induced proinflammatory cytokine secretion (specifically TNF, IL1β, IL6) in unstimulated cells, but reduced this response under inflammatory conditions. Monocyte and macrophage migration was significantly inhibited by dexamethasone-loaded liposomes. The findings indicate that the encapsulation of dexamethasone into liposomes modulates their cellular mechanism of action, and provides important indications for follow-up in vivo investigations.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)1209-1220
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • METIS-309476
  • IR-95147

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