In this study, we assessed the efficacy of unilamellar 110-nm liposomes encapsulating the chelating agent diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) in plutonium-exposed rats. Rats were contaminated by intravenous administration of the soluble citrate form of plutonium. The comparative effects of liposomal and free DTPA at similar doses were examined in terms of limitation of alpha activity burden in rats receiving various treatment regimens. Liposomal DTPA given at 1 h after contamination more significantly prevented the accumulation of plutonium in tissues than did free DTPA. Also, when compared to free DTPA, liposome-entrapped DTPA was more efficient when given at late times for mobilization of deposited plutonium. In addition, repeated injections of liposomal DTPA further improved the removal of plutonium compared to single injection. Various possible mechanisms of action for DTPA delivered through liposomes are discussed. The advantage of liposomal DTPA over free DTPA was undoubtedly directly and indirectly due to the better cell penetration of DTPA when loaded within liposomes, mainly in the tissues of the mononuclear phagocytic system. The decorporation induced by liposomal DTPA may result first from intracellular chelation of plutonium deposited in soft tissues, predominantly in the liver. Afterwards, the slow release of free DTPA molecules from these same tissues may enable a sustained action of DTPA, probably mainly by extracellular chelation of plutonium available on bone surfaces. In conclusion, decorporation of plutonium can be significantly improved by liposomal encapsulation of DTPA regardless of the treatment regimen applied.
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Vol. 189 • No. 5