Liposomes have been imaged using a plethora of techniques. However, few of these methods offer the ability to study these systems in their natural hydrated state without the requirement of drying, staining, and fixation of the vesicles. However, the ability to image a liposome in its hydrated state is the ideal scenario for visualization of these dynamic lipid structures and environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM), with its ability to image wet systems without prior sample preparation, offers potential advantages to the above methods. In our studies, we have used ESEM to not only investigate the morphology of liposomes and niosomes but also to dynamically follow the changes in structure of lipid films and liposome suspensions as water condenses on to or evaporates from the sample. In particular, changes in liposome morphology were studied using ESEM in real time to investigate the resistance of liposomes to coalescence during dehydration thereby providing an alternative assay of liposome formulation and stability. Based on this protocol, we have also studied niosome-based systems and cationic liposome/DNA complexes.
- drug carriers
- drug stability
- electron micrioscopy
- microscopy, electron, scanning
- surface-active agents