Molecular pharmaceutics

Multifunctional disulfide-based cationic dextran conjugates for intravenous gene delivery targeting ovarian cancer cells.

PMID 24892216


A folate-decorated, disulfide-based cationic dextran conjugate having dextran as the main chain and disulfide-linked 1,4-bis(3-aminopropyl)piperazine (BAP) residues as the grafts was designed and successfully prepared as a multifunctional gene delivery vector for targeted gene delivery to ovarian cancer SKOV-3 cells in vitro and in vivo. Initially, a new bioreducible cationic polyamide (denoted as pSSBAP) was prepared by polycondensation reaction of bis(p-nitrophenyl)-3,3'-dithiodipropanoate, a disulfide-containing monomer, and BAP. It was found that the pSSBAP was highly efficient for in vitro gene delivery against MCF-7 and SKOV-3 cell lines. Subsequently, two cationic dextran conjugates with different amounts of BAP residues (denoted as Dex-SSBAP6 and Dex-SSBAP30, respectively) were synthesized by coupling BAP to disulfide-linked carboxylated dextran or coupling pSSBAP-oligomer to p-nitrophenyl carbonated dextran. Both two conjugates were able to bind DNA to form nanosized polyplexes with an improved colloidal stability in physiological conditions. The polyplexes, however, were rapidly dissociated to liberate DNA in a reducing environment. In vitro transfection experiments revealed that the polyplexes of Dex-SSBAP30 efficiently transfected SKOV-3 cells, yielding transfection efficiency that is comparable to that of linear polyethylenimine or lipofectamine 2000. AlamarBlue assay showed that the conjugates had low cytotoxicity in vitro at a high concentration of 100 mg/L. Further, Dex-SSBAP30 has primary amine side groups and thus allows for folate (FA) conjugation, yielding FA-coupled Dex-SSBAP30 (Dex-SSBAP30-FA). It was found that Dex-SSBAP30-FA was efficient for targeted gene delivery to SKOV-3 tumor xenografted in a nude mouse model by intravenous injection, inducing a higher level of gene expression in the tumor as compared to Dex-SSBAP30 lacking FA and comparable gene expression to linear polyethylenimine as one of the most efficient polymeric vectors for intravenous gene delivery in vivo. Disulfide-based cationic dextran system thus has a high potential for intravenous gene delivery toward cancer gene therapy.