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Dual-degradable disulfide-containing PEI–Pluronic/DNA polyplexes: transfection efficiency and balancing protection and DNA release

Authors Zhang L, Chen Z, Li Y

Received 7 June 2013

Accepted for publication 16 July 2013

Published 30 September 2013 Volume 2013:8(1) Pages 3689—3701

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S49595

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Lifen Zhang,* Zhenzhen Chen,* Yanfeng Li

State Key Laboratory of Applied Organic Chemistry, Key Laboratory of Nonferrous Metals Chemistry and Resources Utilization of Gansu Province, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Institute of Biochemical Engineering and Environmental Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, People's Republic of China

*
These authors contributed equally to this work

Abstract: Polymeric gene-delivery vectors to achieve lack of toxicity and a balance between protection and DNA release remains a formidable challenge. Incorporating intracellular environment-responsive degradable bonds is an appreciable step toward developing safer transfection agents. In this study, novel, dual-degradable polycation copolymers (Pluronic-diacrylate [PA]–polyethyleneimine [PEI]–SS) were synthesized through the addition of low molecular weight (800 Da) PEI cross-linked with SS (PEI-SS) to PA. Three PA-PEI-SS copolymers (PA-PEI-SS1, 2, and 3) with different PEI-SS to Pluronic molar ratios were investigated and found to strongly condense plasmid DNA into positively charged nanoparticles with an average particle size of approximately 200 nm and to possess higher stability against DNase I digestion and sodium heparin. Disulfide and ester bonds of the copolymers were susceptible to intracellular redox conditions. In vitro experiments demonstrated that the PA-PEI-SS copolymers had significantly lower cytotoxicity and higher transfection efficiency in both BGC-823 and 293T cell lines than the controls of degradable PEI-SS and nondegradable 25 kDa PEI. Transfection activity was influenced by the PEI-SS content in the polymers and PA-PEI-SS1 showed the highest efficiency of the three copolymers. These studies suggest that these dual-degradable copolymers could be used as potential biocompatible gene delivery carriers.

Keywords: Pluronic, PEI, gene vector, dual-degradable, disulfide-containing linker

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