Pharmaceutics. 2021 Aug 30;13(9):1365. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics13091365. PMID: 34575441
Cationic liposomes (CLs) are effective carriers of a variety of therapeutics. Their applications as vectors of nucleic acids (NAs), from long DNA and mRNA to short interfering RNA (siRNA), have been pursued for decades to realize the promise of gene therapy, with approvals of the siRNA therapeutic patisiran and two mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 as recent milestones. The long-term goal of developing optimized CL-based NA carriers for a broad range of medical applications requires a comprehensive understanding of the structure of these vectors and their interactions with cell membranes and components that lead to the release and activity of the NAs within the cell. Structure-activity relationships of lipids for CL-based NA and drug delivery must take into account that these lipids act not individually but as components of an assembly of many molecules. This review summarizes our current understanding of how the choice of the constituting lipids governs the structure of their CL-NA self-assemblies, which constitute distinct liquid crystalline phases, and the relation of these structures to their efficacy for delivery. In addition, we review progress toward CL-NA nanoparticles for targeted NA delivery in vivo and close with an outlook on CL-based carriers of hydrophobic drugs, which may eventually lead to combination therapies with NAs and drugs for cancer and other diseases.