Cationic lipid polymerization as a novel approach for constructing new DNA delivery agents

J. Wu, M. E. Lizarzaburu, M. J. Kurth, L. Liu, H. Wege, Mark A Zern, M. H. Nantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


In vivo gene delivery mediated by cationic lipids is often compromised by aggregation due to complexation with proteins in the blood. To improve the stability of cationic lipid-DNA complexes, the present study aimed to develop a novel approach in which a poly(cationic lipid) (PCL) is utilized to form stable cationic polyplexes for gene transfection. Hydrogenation of the acrylamide analogue of βAE-DMRI, the polymerizable precursor of PCL, provided a monomeric lipid derivative (MHL) which was used for direct comparison of corresponding lipoplex stability, toxicity, and transfection activity. Various formulations of cationic liposomes, such as MHL, MHL-cholesterol (Chol), PCL, PCL-Chol, DOTAP-Chol, and commercially available lipofectamine were generated and examined in this study. The new poly(cationic lipid) did not display any significant toxicity to rat hepatocytes or Hep G2 cells as indicated by an LDH leakage assay. Furthermore, PCL was significantly less toxic than MHL, DOTAP-Chol or lipofectamine. Suspensions of PCL were resistant to aggregation even after 24 h of exposure to solutions containing 50 and 100% fetal bovine serum (FBS). In contrast, suspensions of lipofectamine extensively aggregated after 24 h of exposure to 50% FBS. To examine the influence of lipid polymerization on gene transfer activity, liposome-mediated transfections of a luciferase vector (pGL3) were performed in Hep G2 and Alexander cell lines. The luciferase activity of the PCL formulations in Hep G2 cells were similar to those of the MHL, DOTAP-Chol and lipofectamine formulations, demonstrating that lipid polymerization does not compromise transfection activity. In comparison to the monomeric precursor MHL and to the industry transfection standards DOTAP and lipofectamine, the novel poly(cationic lipid) exhibited the lowest cytotoxicity, was the most resistant to serum-induced aggregation and had comparable transfection activity when coformulated with cholesterol. This novel polymerization approach for the development of stable and active polyplexes may prove a valuable alternative for in vivo gene delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry


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