Selective liposome targeting of folate receptor positive immune cells in inflammatory diseases

Scott Poh, Venkatesh Chelvam, Wilfredo Ayala-López, Karson S. Putt, Philip S. Low

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Activated macrophages play a key role in the development and maintenance of inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis, lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and many others. These activated macrophages, but not resting or quiescent macrophages highly up-regulate folate receptor beta (FR-β). This differential expression of FR-β provides a mechanism to selectively deliver imaging and therapeutic agents utilizing folate as a targeting molecule. In an effort to determine whether inflammatory diseases can be targeted utilizing a folate-linked nanosize carrier, a PEG-coated liposome was prepared that incorporated a folate conjugated PEG that also could transport imaging or therapeutic cargo. We demonstrate that these folate-liposomes specifically bind to folate receptor positive cells and accumulate at sites of inflammation in mouse models of colitis and atherosclerosis. These two animal models show that folate-targeted liposomes could be successfully utilized to deliver fluorescent molecules and an anti-inflammatory drug (betamethasone) for diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1043
Number of pages11
JournalNanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Activated macrophages
  • Folate receptor
  • Folate targeting
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Liposome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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