The benefit of hydrophobic domain asymmetry on the efficacy of transfection as measured by in vivo imaging

Michael H. Nantz, Christopher W. Dicus, Brendan Hilliard, Sri Yellayi, Shaomin Zou, James G. Hecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


We, and others, have observed that the structure of cationic lipids appears to have a significant effect on the transfection efficacy of optimized nucleic acid/cationic lipid complexes (lipoplexes) used for in vitro and in vivo gene delivery and expression. Although there are many in vitro comparisons of lipid reagents for gene delivery, few comparisons have been made in vivo. We previously reported the effects of changes in hydrophobic domain chain length and chain asymmetry, changes in headgroup composition, and counterion exchange. We have observed in our own work over many years the apparent superiority of asymmetric versus symmetric hydrocarbon domains for otherwise similar lipids. In this investigation we use in vivo whole animal brain imaging to evaluate the contribution of symmetric versus asymmetric hydrophobic domains on what we previously determined to be optimal chain lengths for in vitro transfections. We specifically investigated several glycerol-based lipids; however, the rare reports of asymmetric non-glycerol-based lipids also support our observations. We found that asymmetric, two-chain cationic lipids of 14 to 18 carbons perform significantly better in vivo, as analyzed by whole animal imaging, than the paired symmetric lipids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)786-794
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 7 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Asymmetry
  • Gene delivery
  • Gene therapy
  • Lipid structure
  • Lipid-mediated
  • Nonviral

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


Dive into the research topics of 'The benefit of hydrophobic domain asymmetry on the efficacy of transfection as measured by in vivo imaging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this