Complexation of anionic polyelectrolytes with cationic liposomes: Evidence of reentrant condensation and lipoplex formation

F. Bordi, C. Cametti, M. Diociaiuti, D. Gaudino, T. Gili, S. Sennato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have studied the complexation process taking place in cationic liposomes in the presence of anionic polyelectrolytes, in the polyion concentration range from the dilute to the concentrated regime, by combining dynamic light scattering and transmission electron microscopy techniques. We employed as the cationic lipid a two-chained amphiphile (Dioleoyltrimethylammoniumpropane) and sodium polyacrylate salt as the flexible anionic polyelectrolyte. The results evidence a variety of different structures, mainly depending on the liposome-polyion charge ratio, whose peculiar dynamical and structural features are briefly described. In particular, three different polyion concentration regions are found, within which a monomodal or bimodal distribution of aggregates, with a well-defined time evolution, is present. At low polyion content, close to the isoelectric point, large aggregates are formed, deriving from the collapse of the liposomal bilayers into extended charged surfaces, where adsorbed polyions form a two-dimensional strongly correlated array and organize into a two-dimensional Wigner liquid. At high polyion content, above a critical concentration, the size distributions of the complexes are clearly bimodal and a large-component aggregate, continuously increasing with time, coexists with a population of smaller-size aggregates. At an intermediate polyion concentration, spherical, small-size vesicular structures are reformed, connected in a network by polymer chains. A brief discussion tries to summarize our results into a consistent picture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5214-5222
Number of pages9
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Jun 22 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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