Drug delivery

Improving transfection efficiency of ultrapure oligochitosan/DNA polyplexes by medium acidification.

PMID 24471693


Ultrapure oligochitosans (UOCs) have recently been reported as efficient nonviral vectors for corneal and retinal gene delivery. However, the influence of some physicochemical factors on the transfection efficiency, such as the pH, remains unclear. Deeper in vitro research of these factors could provide valuable information for future clinical applications. The aim of this study is to determine the influence of the pH decrease on the transfection efficiency of UOC/pDNA polyplexes in HEK293 and ARPE19 cells. We elaborated self-assembled UOC/pCMS-EGFP polyplexes. The influence of the most important factors on the particle size and the zeta potential was studied by an orthogonal experimental design. We evaluated, in vitro, the cellular uptake and the transfection efficiency by flow cytometry, and the cytotoxicity of the vectors by CCK-8 assay. The pH of the medium strongly influences the physicochemical properties of the polyplexes, and by its modulation we are able to control their superficial charge. A significant increase on the cellular uptake and transfection efficiency of UOCs was obtained when the pH was acidified. Neither of our UOC/pCMS-EGFP polyplexes caused cytotoxicity; however, cells treated with Lipofectamine 2000™ showed decreased cell viability. This kind of UOC vectors could be useful to transfect cells that are in an acidic environment, such as tumor cells. However, additional in vivo studies may be required in order to obtain an effective and safe medicine for nonviral gene therapy purpose.