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  • Michael Nguyen

Role of PEG Lipids in Lipid Nanoparticle Formulations

Updated: Apr 20

PEG (polyethylene glycol) lipids are a class of lipids that play a role in making lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) so effective at drug delivery. PEG lipids drastically help improve circulation times for LNPs, allowing for improved therapeutic efficacy. They also help prevent aggregation and fusion with other nanoparticles, helping maintain LNP physicochemical properties and overall structure.

Key Functions of PEG Lipids in LNPs

1. Stability and Shelf Life: PEG lipids contribute to the structural integrity of LNPs, preventing them from aggregating or fusing with each other. This stabilization is crucial for maintaining the consistency and efficacy of the LNPs during storage and transport.

2. Reduced Immunogenicity: By shielding the nanoparticle surface, PEG lipids decrease the uptake by the mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS), reducing the immune recognition and clearance of the LNPs. This stealth feature allows LNPs to circulate longer in the body, increasing the chances of reaching their target cells.

3. Enhanced Targeting: PEG is also useful for ligand conjugation - typically used for cell or organ-specific targeting.

Fig. 1 - PEG structure, as well as some common PEGylated lipids available here.

The Double-Edged Sword of PEGylation

While PEGylation offers numerous benefits, it also comes with challenges. The phenomenon known as the "PEG dilemma" refers to the immune responses that some individuals might develop to PEG, which can lead to reduced effectiveness of the therapy upon repeated exposure. Addressing this challenge is a current focus in the field, with ongoing research aimed at developing alternatives to PEG or new strategies to mitigate this issue.

Check out our blog post on PEG lipids in LNP formulations and some of the issues and challenges associated! 


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