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Journal of Drug Delivery
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 376548, 10 pages
Research Article

Modeling the Release Kinetics of Poorly Water-Soluble Drug Molecules from Liposomal Nanocarriers

1Department of Physics, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58108-6050, USA
2Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Lessingstraße 8, 07743 Jena, Germany

Received 22 December 2010; Accepted 22 March 2011

Academic Editor: Volkmar Weissig

Copyright © 2011 Stephan Loew et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Liposomes are frequently used as pharmaceutical nanocarriers to deliver poorly water-soluble drugs such as temoporfin, cyclosporine A, amphotericin B, and paclitaxel to their target site. Optimal drug delivery depends on understanding the release kinetics of the drug molecules from the host liposomes during the journey to the target site and at the target site. Transfer of drugs in model systems consisting of donor liposomes and acceptor liposomes is known from experimental work to typically exhibit a first-order kinetics with a simple exponential behavior. In some cases, a fast component in the initial transfer is present, in other cases the transfer is sigmoidal. We present and analyze a theoretical model for the transfer that accounts for two physical mechanisms, collisions between liposomes and diffusion of the drug molecules through the aqueous phase. Starting with the detailed distribution of drug molecules among the individual liposomes, we specify the conditions that lead to an apparent first-order kinetic behavior. We also discuss possible implications on the transfer kinetics of (1) high drug loading of donor liposomes, (2) attractive interactions between drug molecules within the liposomes, and (3) slow transfer of drugs between the inner and outer leaflets of the liposomes.