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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • nanoparticle;
  • scintigraphy;
  • nanomedicine;
  • veterinary;
  • nanotechnology

Summary

Reasons for performing study: Liposomes are phospholipid nanoparticles that extravasate at sites of increased vascular permeability. They have potential in equine medicine for targeted drug delivery and diagnostic imaging of infectious, inflammatory and neoplastic lesions.

Objectives: This study evaluates the safety and biodistribution of i.v. polyethyleneglycol(PEG) liposomes in normal horses.

Methods: PEG-liposomes were prepared by the film hydration method and labelled using 99mTc-hexamethyl-propylene-amine-oxime. A single dose of 0.24 µmol/kg bwt 99mTc-PEG-liposomes and 2.4 µmol/kg bwt unlabelled PEG-liposomes was administered to 10 conscious horses via i.v. infusion at a rate of 6 µmol/min for the first 15 min and 60 µmol/min thereafter. Clinical parameters, haematology, plasma biochemistry and serum complement activity were monitored serially. Scintigraphic imaging was performed at 1, 12 and 21 h post infusion (PI). Six horses were subjected to euthanasia at 24 h PI. The percentage injected dose per kilogram of tissue was calculated for multiple organs. Results were analysed using repeated measures ANOVA.

Results: Horses did not demonstrate adverse reactions during or after liposome infusion. There was a significant elevation in heart rate and respiratory rate at 20 and 25 min PI. No significant complement consumption was detected, although a trend for decreased total haemolytic complement values at 20 min PI was present. Scintigraphic studies revealed a prolonged vascular phase that lasted to 21 h PI, with a reproducible pattern of organ distribution. Biodistribution studies revealed the highest concentrations of radiopharmaceutical within the lung, kidney, liver and spleen.

Conclusions: Intravenous liposome administration appears to be safe in horses. When administered in combination with PEG-liposomes, 99mTc-PEG-liposomes have long circulating characteristics and a reproducible pattern of organ distribution in horses.

Potential relevance: Radiolabelled liposomes may be useful for detecting infection, inflammation and neoplasia in the horse. Liposomes have significant potential for targeted drug delivery in the horse. This study establishes the scintigraphic findings and tissue distribution of 99mTc-PEG-liposomes after i.v. administration in healthy horses.