• Computed tomography (CT);
  • Contrast agents;
  • Ethosomes;
  • Extrusion;
  • Macrophages


Computed tomography (CT) is the primary non-invasive imaging technique used for most patients with suspected liver disease. In order to improve liver-specific imaging properties and prevent toxic effects in patients with compromised renal function, we investigated the encapsulation of iodine within ethosomal vesicles. As a first step in the development of novel contrast agents using ethosomes for CT imaging applications, iodine was entrapped within ethosomes and iodine-containing ethosomes of the desired size were obtained by extrusion using a polycarbonate membrane with a defined pore size. Ethosomes containing iodine showed a relatively high CT density, which decreased when they were extruded, due to the rupture and re-formation of the lipid bilayer of the ethosome. However, when a solution with a high iodine concentration was used as a dispersion media during the extrusion process, the decrease in CT density could be prevented. In addition, ethosomes containing iodine were taken up efficiently by macrophages, which are abundant in the liver, and these ethosomes exhibited no cellular toxicity. These results demonstrate that iodine could be entrapped within ethosomal vesicles, giving the ethosomes a relatively high CT density, and that the extrusion technique used in this study could conveniently and reproducibly produce ethosomal vesicles with a desired size. Therefore, ethosomes containing iodine, as prepared in this study, have potential as contrast agents with applications in CT imaging.