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Reversibly cross-linked polyplexes enable cancer-targeted gene delivery via self-promoted DNA release and self-diminished toxicity

, : Reversibly cross-linked polyplexes enable cancer-targeted gene delivery via self-promoted DNA release and self-diminished toxicity. Biomacromolecules 16(4): 1390-1400

Polycations often suffer from the irreconcilable inconsistency between transfection efficiency and toxicity. Polymers with high molecular weight (MW) and cationic charge feature potent gene delivery capabilities, while in the meantime suffer from strong chemotoxicity, restricted intracellular DNA release, and low stability in vivo. To address these critical challenges, we herein developed pH-responsive, reversibly cross-linked, polyetheleneimine (PEI)-based polyplexes coated with hyaluronic acid (HA) for the effective and targeted gene delivery to cancer cells. Low-MW PEI was cross-linked with the ketal-containing linker, and the obtained high-MW analogue afforded potent gene delivery capabilities during transfection, while rapidly degraded into low-MW segments upon acid treatment in the endosomes, which promoted intracellular DNA release and reduced material toxicity. HA coating of the polyplexes shielded the surface positive charges to enhance their stability under physiological condition and simultaneously reduced the toxicity. Additionally, HA coating allowed active targeting to cancer cells to potentiate the transfection efficiencies in cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. This study therefore provides an effective approach to overcome the efficiency-toxicity inconsistence of nonviral vectors, which contributes insights into the design strategy of effective and safe vectors for cancer gene therapy.


PMID: 25756930

DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.5b00180

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