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Evidence Supporting the Safety of Pegylated Diethylaminoethyl-Chitosan Polymer as a Nanovector for Gene Therapy Applications

Authors Rondon EP, Benabdoun HA, Vallières F, Segalla Petrônio M, Tiera MJ, Benderdour M, Fernandes JC

Received 4 March 2020

Accepted for publication 4 July 2020

Published 20 August 2020 Volume 2020:15 Pages 6183—6200


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Thomas J. Webster

Elsa Patricia Rondon,1 Houda Abir Benabdoun,1 Francis Vallières,1 Maicon Segalla Petrônio,2 Marcio José Tiera,2 Mohamed Benderdour,1 Julio Cesar Fernandes1

1Orthopedic Research Laboratory, Hôpital Du Sacré-Cœur De Montréal, Université De Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada; 2Institute of Biosciences, Humanities and Exact Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Environmental Sciences, UNESP-São Paulo State University, São José Do Rio Preto, São Paulo State, Brazil

Correspondence: Julio Cesar Fernandes Tel +1 514-338-2222 Ext. 2489

Purpose: Diethylaminoethyl-chitosan (DEAE-CH) is a derivative with excellent potential as a delivery vector for gene therapy applications. The aim of this study is to evaluate its toxicological profile for potential future clinical applications.
Methods: An endotoxin-free chitosan (CH) modified with DEAE, folic acid (FA) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) was used to complex small interfering RNA (siRNA) and form nanoparticles (DEAE12-CH-PEG-FA2/siRNA). Based on the guidelines from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL), we evaluated the effects of the interaction between these nanoparticles and blood components. In vitro screening assays such as hemolysis, hemagglutination, complement activation, platelet aggregation, coagulation times, cytokine production, and reactive species, such as nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species (ROS), were performed on erythrocytes, plasma, platelets, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and Raw 264.7 macrophages. Moreover, MTS and LDH assays on Raw 264.7 macrophages, PBMC and MG-63 cells were performed.
Results: Our results show that a targeted theoretical plasma concentration (TPC) of DEAE12-CH-PEG-FA2/siRNA nanoparticles falls within the guidelines’ thresholds: < 1% hemolysis, 2.9% platelet aggregation, no complement activation, and no effect on coagulation times. ROS and NO production levels were comparable to controls. Cytokine secretion (TNF-α, IL-6, IL-4, and IL-10) was not affected by nanoparticles except for IL-1β and IL-8. Nanoparticles showed a slight agglutination. Cell viability was > 70% for TPC in all cell types, although LDH levels were statistically significant in Raw 264.7 macrophages and PBMC after 24 and 48 h of incubation.
Conclusion: These DEAE12-CH-PEG-FA2/siRNA nanoparticles fulfill the existing ISO, ASTM and NCL guidelines’ threshold criteria, and their low toxicity and blood biocompatibility warrant further investigation for potential clinical applications.

Keywords: chitosan, nanoparticles, siRNA, biocompatibility assays, gene therapy, toxicity

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