Characterization of liposomes as a drug delivery vehicle

Using SCIEX Triple Quad™ 7500 LC-MS/MS System – QTRAP® Ready

Mackenzie Pearson, Paul Baker, and Zoe Zhang


Advancements in pharmaceutical development have led to more specialized therapeutics and novel ways in which they are delivered. Emerging drug delivery mechanisms are liposomes, which were first discovered in the 1960s, and are currently being utilized as therapeutic transport systems. Liposomes can consist of a lipid mono- or bilayer containing anionic, cationic, and neutral lipids with an aqueous core.1 As a drug delivery system, they protect compounds from degradation, metabolism or early inactivation, and minimize potential pharmacological toxicity, while increasing potency.2 Liposomes can be customized for targeted and/or localized drug delivery.2

For oligonucleotide-based precision therapies like mRNA and CRISPR/Cas93 , the efficacy and acute targeting of specific tissues or cell types to reduce adverse side-effects is crucial. The expansion of liposomes to more specialized lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) has further developed this area of therapeutics. LNPs can be formulated to improve efficacy, stability, and encapsulation of the desired drug.4 The flexible physiochemical properties of liposomes and LNPs require their formulation to be carefully constructed for optimal stability. Inconsistency in their composition can lead to a decrease in a drug’s therapeutic index posing a risk for safety and efficacy. The Comprehensive Targeted Method for Global Lipidomics Screening5 can be employed to profile the lipid makeup of these liposomes and LNPs. 

Key features of the SCIEX solution for liposome characterization

  • Targeted, customizable profiling of liposomes made from natural mixtures or defined formulations

  • Quantitative identification of liposomal lipids and monitoring of breakdown products in formulations that often contribute to unstable carriers

  • Fast, reproducible and robust multiple-reaction monitoring (MRM) using the Scheduled MRM™ Algorithm with fast polarity switching for highly selective and sensitive results

  • Great separation of phospholipid and lysophospholipid (LPL) species to reduce isobaric overlap and provide confidence in identification

  • Excellent sensitivity in positive and negative ionization mode to provide fatty acid composition of lipid molecular species