Influence of Liposomes' and Lipoplexes' Physicochemical Characteristics on Their Uptake Rate and Mechanisms by the Placenta

Louise Fliedel, Khair Alhareth, Johanne Seguin, Marwa El-Khashab, Audrey Chissey, Nathalie Mignet, Thierry Fournier, Karine Andrieux*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Pregnant women are still considered as drug orphans. Developing new medications for pregnancy complications is an urgent need. Nanomedicines seem to be a promising approach to control the biodistribution of drugs to ensure both the mother's and the fetus' safety. Understanding the interaction between nanoparticles and the placental barrier is a key factor to the success of the development of nanomedicines for pregnant women. In this study, we evaluated the behavior of fluorescent PEGylated liposomes and lipoplexes in human placental tissue using in vitro and ex vivo models, BeWo cell culture and suspended villous placental explants, respectively. Fluorescent based analytical tools such as Fluorescence activated cells sorting (FACS), confocal microscopy and HPLC coupled to fluorescence detection were used to assess liposomes penetration and their endocytosis mechanisms in the placenta. First, no influence of the PEGylation density was observed on the cellular internalization of liposomal formulations using both models. The comparison between neutral and cationic liposomes exhibits a significant higher internalization of the cationic formulation compared to the neutral ones. In addition, the HPLC quantification of the fluorescent liposomes in human villous explants demonstrated an increase of cationic liposomes uptake with increasing incubation concentrations. Similar uptake of cationic liposomes and lipoplexes, containing the same cationic lipid, the DMAPAP but with an overall neutral surface charge, was observed and evidenced the higher effect of composition than charge surface on trophoblast penetration. Moreover, both cationic liposomes and lipoplexes exhibited an endocytosis mechanism of internalization via pathways implicating dynamin. These data highlight the key role of the liposome's lipid composition and the possibility to modulate their internalization in the placenta by adjusting their design.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6299
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Cations/metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipids/chemistry
  • Liposomes/chemistry
  • Placenta/metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Tissue Distribution
  • ex vivo model
  • liposomes
  • cellular uptake
  • endocytosis
  • placental explants
  • lipoplexes


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