Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Melvin Klegerman Ph.D

Committee Member

Emil Martin Ph.D

Committee Member

Michael Wassler Ph.D

Committee Member

Yong-Jian Geng MD, Ph.D

Committee Member

Walid Fakhouri MS, Ph.D


Use of Echogenic Immunoliposomes for Delivery of both Drug and Stem Cells for Inhibition of Atheroma Progression

By Ali K. Naji B.S. Advisor: Dr. Melvin E. Klegerman PhD

Background and significance: Echogenic liposomes can be used as drug and cell delivery vehicles that reduce atheroma progression. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a signal protein that induces vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. VEGF functionally induces migration and proliferation of endothelial cells and increases intracellular vascular permeability. VEGF activates angiogenic transduction factors through VEGF tyrosine kinase domains in high-affinity receptors of endothelial cells. Bevacizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody specific for VEGF-A which was developed as an anti-tumor agent. Often, anti-VEGF agents result in regression of existing microvessels, inhibiting tumor growth and possibly causing tumor shrinkage with time. During atheroma progression neovasculation in the arterial adventitia is mediated by VEGF. Therefore, bevacizumab may be effective in inhibiting atheroma progression. Stem cells show an ability to inhibit atheroma progression. We have previously demonstrated that monocyte derived CD-34+ stem cells that can be delivered to atheroma by bifunctional-ELIP ( BF-ELIP) targeted to Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and CD-34. Adhesion molecules such as ICAM-1 and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) are expressed by endothelial cells under inflammatory conditions. Ultrasound enhanced liposomal targeting provides a method for stem cell delivery into atheroma and encapsulated drug release. This project is designed to examine the ability of echogenic liposomes to deliver bevacizumab and stem cells to inhibit atheroma progression and neovasculation with and without ultrasound in vitro and optimize the ultrasound parameters for delivery of bevacizumab and stem cells to atheroma. V Hypotheses: Previous studies showed that endothelial cell VEGF expression may relate to atherosclerosis progression and atheroma formation in the cardiovascular system. Bevacizumab-loaded ELIP will inhibit endothelial cell VEGF expression in vitro. Bevacizumab activity can be enhanced by pulsed Doppler ultrasound treatment of BEV-ELIP. I will also test the hypothesis that the transwell culture system can serve as an in vitro model for study of US-enhanced targeted delivery of stem cells to atheroma. Monocyte preparations will serve as a source of CD34+ stem cells. Specific Aims: Induce VEGF expression using PKA and PKC activation factors to endothelial cell cultures and use western blot and ELISA techniques to detect the expressed VEGF.  Characterize the relationship between endothelial cell proliferation and VEGF expression to develop a specific EC culture based system to demonstrate BEV-ELIP activity as an anti-VEGF agent. Design a cell-based assay for in vitro assessment of ultrasound-enhanced bevacizumab release from echogenic liposomes.  Demonstrate ultrasound delivery enhancement of stem cells by applying different types of liposomes on transwell EC culture using fluorescently labeled monocytes and detect the effect on migration and attachment rate of these echogenic liposomes with and without ultrasound in vitro.


Liposome Stem cells atheroma VEGF ultrasound vascular disease