Liposome Imaging in Optically Cleared Tissues

Abdullah Muhammad Syed, Presley MacMillan, Jessica Ngai, Stefan Wilhelm, Shrey Sindhwani, Benjamin R Kingston, Jamie LY Wu, Pablo Llano-Suárez, Zachary Pengju Lin, Ben Ouyang, Zaina Kahiel, Suresh Gadde, Warren CW Chan

Nano Lett. 2020, 20, 2, 1362–1369 | DOI:10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b04853


Three-dimensional (3D) optical microscopy can be used to understand and improve the delivery of nanomedicine. However, this approach cannot be performed for analyzing liposomes in tissues because the processing step to make tissues transparent for imaging typically removes the lipids. Here, we developed a tag, termed REMNANT, that enables 3D imaging of organic materials in biological tissues. We demonstrated the utility of this tag for the 3D mapping of liposomes in intact tissues. We also showed that the tag is able to monitor the release of entrapped therapeutic agents. We found that liposomes release their cargo >100-fold faster in tissues in vivo than in conventional in vitro assays. This allowed us to design a liposomal formulation with enhanced ability to kill tumor associated macrophages. Our development opens up new opportunities for studying the chemical properties and pharmacodynamics of administered organic materials in an intact biological environment. This approach provides insight into the in vivo behavior of degradable materials, where the newly discovered information can guide the engineering of the next generation of imaging and therapeutic agents.