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Amphiphilic core shell nanoparticles containing dense polyethyleneimine shells for efficient delivery of microRNA to Kupffer cells

Authors Liu Z, Niu D, Zhang J, Zhang W, Yao Y, Li P, Gong J

Received 25 November 2015

Accepted for publication 17 March 2016

Published 15 June 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 2785—2797

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S101251

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Farooq Shiekh

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Lei Yang


Zuojin Liu,1,* Dechao Niu,2,3,* Junyong Zhang,1 Wenfeng Zhang,1 Yuan Yao,2 Pei Li,2 Jianping Gong1

1Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, 2Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 3Lab of Low-Dimensional Materials Chemistry, School of Materials Science and Engineering, East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Abstract: Efficient and targeted delivery approach to transfer exogenous genes into macrophages is still a great challenge. Current gene delivery methods often result in low cellular uptake efficiency in vivo in some types of cells, especially for the Kupffer cells (KCs). In this article, we demonstrate that amphiphilic core–shell nanoparticles (NPs) consisting of well-defined hydrophobic poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) cores and branched polyethyleneimine (PEI) shells (denoted as PEI@PMMA NPs) are efficient nanocarriers to deliver microRNA (miRNA)-loaded plasmid to the KCs. Average hydrodynamic diameter of PEI@PMMA NPs was 279 nm with a narrow size distribution. The NPs also possessed positive surface charges up to +30 mV in water, thus enabling effective condensation of negatively charged plasmid DNA. Gel electrophoresis assay showed that the resultant PEI@PMMA NPs were able to completely condense miRNA plasmid at a weight ratio of 25:1 (N/P ratio equal to 45:1). The Cell Counting Kit-8 assay and flow cytometry results showed that the PEI@PMMA/miRNA NPs displayed low cytotoxicity and cell apoptosis activity against the KCs. The maximum cell transfection efficiency reached 34.7% after 48 hours, which is much higher than that obtained by using the commercial Lipofectamine™ 2000 (1.7%). Bio-transmission electron microscope observation revealed that the PEI@PMMA NPs were mainly distributed in the cytoplasm of the KCs. Furthermore, when compared to the control groups, the protein expression of target nuclear factor κB P65 was considerably inhibited (P<0.05) both in vitro and in vivo. These results demonstrate that the PEI@PMMA NPs with a unique amphiphilic core–shell nanostructure are promising nanocarriers for delivering miRNA plasmid to KCs.

Keywords: branched polyethyleneimine, amphiphilic core–shell nanoparticles, Kupffer cells, gene delivery

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