Peptide-coated liposomal fasudil enhances site specific vasodilation in pulmonary arterial hypertension

Kamrun Nahar, Shahriar Absar, Nilesh Gupta, Venkata Ramana Kotamraju, Ivan F. McMurtry, Masahiko Oka, Masanobu Komatsu, Eva Nozik-Grayck, Fakhrul Ahsan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study sought to develop a liposomal delivery system of fasudil-an investigational drug for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)-that will preferentially accumulate in the PAH lungs. Liposomal fasudil was prepared by film-hydration method, and the drug was encapsulated by active loading. The liposome surface was coated with a targeting moiety, CARSKNKDC, a cyclic peptide; the liposomes were characterized for size, polydispersity index, zeta potential, and storage and nebulization stability. The in vitro drug release profiles and uptake by TGF-β activated pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMC) and alveolar macrophages were evaluated. The pharmacokinetics were monitored in male Sprague-Dawley rats, and the pulmonary hemodynamics were studied in acute and chronic PAH rats. The size, polydispersity index (PDI), and zeta potential of the liposomes were 206-216 nm, 0.058-0.084, and -20-42.7 mV, respectively. The formulations showed minimal changes in structural integrity when nebulized with a commercial microsprayer. The optimized formulation was stable for >4 weeks when stored at 4 °C. Fasudil was released in a continuous fashion over 120 h with a cumulative release of 76%. Peptide-linked liposomes were taken up at a higher degree by TGF-β activated PASMCs; but alveolar macrophages could not engulf peptide-coated liposomes. The formulations did not injure the lungs; the half-life of liposomal fasudil was 34-fold higher than that of plain fasudil after intravenous administration. Peptide-linked liposomal fasudil, as opposed to plain liposomes, reduced the mean pulmonary arterial pressure by 35-40%, without influencing the mean systemic arterial pressure. This study establishes that CAR-conjugated inhalable liposomal fasudil offers favorable pharmacokinetics and produces pulmonary vasculature specific dilatation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4374-4384
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • CAR peptide
  • inhalation delivery
  • peptide link liposomes
  • pulmonary arterial hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery

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