Stabilization of Distearoylphosphatidylcholine Lamellar Phases in Propylene Glycol Using Cholesterol

Richard Harvey, Nargis Ara, Richard K. Heenan, David Barlow, Peter Quinn, Margaret Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Phospholipid vesicles (liposomes) formed in pharmaceutically acceptable nonaqueous polar solvents such as propylene glycol are of interest in drug delivery because of their ability to improve the bioavailability of drugs with poor aqueous solubility. We have demonstrated a stabilizing effect of cholesterol on lamellar phases formed by dispersion of distearoylphosphatidylcholine (DSPC) in water/propylene glycol (PG) solutions with glycol concentrations ranging from 0 to 100%. The stability of the dispersions was assessed by determining the effect of propylene glycol concentration on structural parameters of the lamellar phases using a complementary combination of X-ray and neutron scattering techniques at 25 °C and in the case of X-ray scattering at 65 °C. Significantly, although stable lamellar phases (and liposomes) were formed in all PG solutions at 25 °C, the association of the glycol with the liposomes’ lamellar structures led to the formation of interdigitated phases, which were not thermostable at 65 °C. With the addition of equimolar quantities of cholesterol to the dispersions of DSPC, stable lamellar dispersions (and indeed liposomes) were formed in all propylene glycol solutions at 25 °C, with the significant lateral phase separation of the bilayer components only detectable in propylene glycol concentrations above 60% (w/w). We propose that the stability of lamellar phases of the cholesterol-containing liposomes formed in propylene glycol concentrations of up to 60% (w/w) represent potentially very valuable drug delivery vehicles for a variety of routes of administration.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)4408-4417
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number12
Early online date30 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2013


  • propylene glycol liposomes
  • X-ray diffraction
  • small-angle neutron scattering
  • drug delivery


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