Coating liposome surfaces with human serum albumin (HSA) can improve the colloidal stability and prevent opsonization. HSA coating via specific binding with alkyl ligands is promising because although the ligand-mediated coating is relatively stable it can spontaneously exchange with fresh HSA. However, to achieve surface coating with HSA, multiple hydrophobic ligands must be exposed to an aqueous medium prior to binding with HSA. This presents a challenge, as hydrophobic ligands tend to be buried in the liposomal membrane. Here we present the first HSA modification of liposome surfaces via alkyl ligands. We found that a relatively short alkyl ligand, or a long alkyl ligand with a terminal carboxylate, could be exposed on the liposome surface without causing aggregation of the liposomes and these ligands could subsequently bind HSA. The resulting HSA-coated liposomes were as inert as conventional PEGylated liposomes in terms of macrophage recognition.
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