Effectiveness of CNS-acting drugs depends on the localization, targeting, and capacity to be transported through the blood–brain barrier (BBB) which can be achieved by designing brain-targeting delivery vectors. Hence, the objective of this study was to screen the formulation and process variables affecting the performance of sertraline (Ser-HCl)-loaded pegylated and glycosylated liposomes. The prepared vectors were characterized for Ser-HCl entrapment, size, surface charge, release behavior, and in vitro transport through the BBB. Furthermore, the compatibility among liposomal components was assessed using SEM, FTIR, and DSC analysis. Through a thorough screening study, enhancement of Ser-HCl entrapment, nanosized liposomes with low skewness, maximized stability, and controlled drug leakage were attained. The solid-state characterization revealed remarkable interaction between Ser-HCl and the charging agent to determine drug entrapment and leakage. Moreover, results of liposomal transport through mouse brain endothelialpolyoma cells demonstrated greater capacity of the proposed glycosylated liposomes to target the cerebellar due to its higher density of GLUT1 and higher glucose utilization. This transport capacity was confirmed by the inhibiting action of both cytochalasin B and phenobarbital. Using C6 glioma cells model, flow cytometry, time-lapse live cell imaging, and in vivo NIR fluorescence imaging demonstrated that optimized glycosylated liposomes can be transported through the BBB by classical endocytosis, as well as by specific transcytosis. In conclusion, the current study proposed a thorough screening of important formulation and process variabilities affecting brain-targeting liposomes for further scale-up processes.

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