Nature vs. Manmade – Comparing Exosomes and Liposomes for Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) of all severities is a significant public health burden, causing a range of effects that can lead to death or a diminished quality of life. Liposomes and mesenchymal stem cell-derived exosomes are two drug delivery agents with potential to be leveraged in the treatment of TBI by increasing the efficacy of drug therapies as well as having additional therapeutic effects. They exhibit several physical similarities, but key differences affect their performances as nanocarriers. Liposomes can be produced commercially at scale, and liposomes achieve higher encapsulation efficiency. Meanwhile, the intrinsic cargo and targeting moieties of exosomes, which liposomes lack, give exosomes a greater ability to facilitate neural regeneration, and exosomes do not trigger the infusion reactions that liposomes can. However, there are concerns about both exosomes and liposomes regarding interactions with tumors. The same routes of administration can be used for both exosomes and liposomes, resulting in somewhat different distribution throughout the body. While the effect of the nanocarrier type on accumulation in the brain is not concrete, targeting leads to increased accumulation of both exosomes and liposomes in the brain, upon which on-demand release can be used for both drug deliverers. Although neither have been applied to TBI in humans, preclinical trials have shown their immense potential, as have clinical trials pertaining to other brain injuries and conditions. While questions remain, research thus far shows that the various differences make exosomes a better choice of nanocarrier for TBI.

Hennigan K, Lavik E. (2023) Nature vs. Manmade: Comparing Exosomes and Liposomes for Traumatic Brain Injury. AAPS J 25(5):83. [abstract]

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