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Theranostic nanoparticles based on bioreducible polyethylenimine-coated iron oxide for reduction-responsive gene delivery and magnetic resonance imaging

Authors Li D, Tang X, Pulli B, Lin C, Zhao P, Cheng J, Lv Z, Yuan X, Luo Q, Cai H, Ye M

Received 28 January 2014

Accepted for publication 12 April 2014

Published 10 July 2014 Volume 2014:9(1) Pages 3347—3361

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S61463

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Dan Li,1,* Xin Tang,2,* Benjamin Pulli,1 Chao Lin,2 Peng Zhao,2 Jian Cheng,2 Zhongwei Lv,1 Xueyu Yuan,1 Qiong Luo,1 Haidong Cai,1 Meng Ye1

1Department of Nuclear Medicine, Shanghai 10th People’s Hospital, 2Shanghai East Hospital, The Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Nanoscience, Tongji University School of Medicine, Tongji University, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Abstract: Theranostic nanoparticles based on superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) have a great promise for tumor diagnosis and gene therapy. However, the availability of theranostic nanoparticles with efficient gene transfection and minimal toxicity remains a big challenge. In this study, we construct an intelligent SPIO-based nanoparticle comprising a SPIO inner core and a disulfide-containing polyethylenimine (SSPEI) outer layer, which is referred to as a SSPEI-SPIO nanoparticle, for redox-triggered gene release in response to an intracellular reducing environment. We reveal that SSPEI-SPIO nanoparticles are capable of binding genes to form nano-complexes and mediating a facilitated gene release in the presence of dithiothreitol (5–20 mM), thereby leading to high transfection efficiency against different cancer cells. The SSPEI-SPIO nanoparticles are also able to deliver small interfering RNA (siRNA) for the silencing of human telomerase reverse transcriptase genes in HepG2 cells, causing their apoptosis and growth inhibition. Further, the nanoparticles are applicable as T2-negative contrast agents for magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of a tumor xenografted in a nude mouse. Importantly, SSPEI-SPIO nanoparticles have relatively low cytotoxicity in vitro at a high concentration of 100 µg/mL. The results of this study demonstrate the utility of a disulfide-containing cationic polymer-decorated SPIO nanoparticle as highly potent and low-toxic theranostic nano-system for specific nucleic acid delivery inside cancer cells.

Keywords: nanoparticles, SSPEI, hTERT, disulfide, RNA interference, tumor, MR imaging

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