Biochimica et biophysica acta

Metal contaminants promote degradation of lipid/DNA complexes during lyophilization.

PMID 17224131


Oxidation reactions represent an important degradation pathway of nucleic acid-based pharmaceuticals. To evaluate the role of metal contamination and chelating agents in the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) during lyophilization, ROS generation and the stability of lipid/DNA complexes were investigated. Trehalose-containing formulations were lyophilized with different levels of transition metals. ROS generation was examined by adding proxyl fluorescamine to the formulations prior to freeze-drying. Results show that ROS were generated during lyophilization, and both supercoil content and transfection rates decreased as the levels of metal-induced ROS increased. The experiments incorporating chelators demonstrated that some of these agents (e.g., DTPA, desferal) clearly suppress ROS generation, while others (e.g., EDTA) enhance ROS. Surprisingly, there was not a strong correlation of ROS generated in the presence of chelators with the maintenance of supercoil content. In this study, we demonstrated the adverse effects of the presence of metals (especially Fe(2+)) in nonviral vector formulations. While some chelators attenuate ROS generation and preserve DNA integrity, the effects of these additives on vector stability during lyophilization are difficult to predict. Further study is needed to develop potent formulation strategies that inhibit ROS generation and DNA degradation during lyophilization and storage.