Plasmid-encapsulated polyethylene glycol-grafted polyethylenimine nanoparticles for gene delivery into rat mesenchymal stem cells
Xiao-Ai Chen1,5*, Li-Jun Zhang2*, Zhi-Jie He3, Wei-Wei Wang4, Bo Xu1, Qian Zhong1, Xin-Tao Shuai4, Li-Qun Yang4, Yu-Bin Deng1
1Department of Pathophysiology, Zhongshan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China; 2Futian Affiliated Hospital, Guangdong Medical College, Shenzhen, China; 3Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China; 4Institute of Polymer Science, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, BME Center, State Key Laboratory of Optoelectronic Materials and Technologies, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China; 5Yunnan Cancer Hospital, The Third Affiliated Hospital, Kunming Medical College, Kunming, China
*Both authors contributed equally to this work
Background: Mesenchymal stem cell transplantation is a promising method in regenerative medicine. Gene-modified mesenchymal stem cells possess superior characteristics of specific tissue differentiation, resistance to apoptosis, and directional migration. Viral vectors have the disadvantages of potential immunogenicity, carcinogenicity, and complicated synthetic procedures. Polyethylene glycol-grafted polyethylenimine (PEG-PEI) holds promise in gene delivery because of easy preparation and potentially targeting modification.
Methods: A PEG8k-PEI25k graft copolymer was synthesized. Agarose gel retardation assay and dynamic light scattering were used to determine the properties of the nanoparticles. MTT reduction, wound and healing, and differentiation assays were used to test the cytobiological characteristics of rat mesenchymal stem cells, fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry were used to determine transfection efficiency, and atomic force microscopy was used to evaluate the interaction between PEG-PEI/plasmid nanoparticles and mesenchymal stem cells.
Results: After incubation with the copolymer, the bionomics of mesenchymal stem cells showed no significant change. The mesenchymal stem cells still maintained high viability, resettled the wound area, and differentiated into adipocytes and osteoblasts. The PEG-PEI completely packed plasmid and condensed plasmid into stable nanoparticles of 100–150 nm diameter. After optimizing the N/P ratio, the PEG-PEI/plasmid microcapsules delivered plasmid into mesenchymal stem cells and obtained an optimum transfection efficiency of 15%–21%, which was higher than for cationic liposomes.
Conclusion: These data indicate that PEG-PEI is a valid gene delivery agent and has better transfection efficiency than cationic liposomes in mesenchymal stem cells.
Keywords: stem cells, gene delivery, nanoparticles, atomic force microscopy
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