Polyethyleneimine (PEI), a cationic polymer, is one of the successful and widely used vectors for non-viral gene transfection in vitro. However, its in vivo application was greatly limited due to its high cytotoxicity and short duration of gene expression. To improve its biocompatibility and transfection efficiency, PEI has been modified with PEG, folic acid, and chloroquine in order to improve biocompatibility and enhance targeting.
Poly(ε-caprolactone)-Pluronic-Poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCFC) was synthesized by ring-opening polymerization, and PCFC-g-PEI was obtained by Michael addition reaction with GMA-PCFC-GMA and polyethyleneimine (PEI, 25 kD). The prepared PCFC-g-PEI was characterized by 1H-NMR, SEC-MALLS. Meanwhile, DNA condensation, DNase I protection, the particle size and zeta potential of PCFC-g-PEI/DNA complexes were also determined. According to the results of flow cytometry and MTT assay, the synthesized PCFC-g-PEI, with considerable transfection efficiency, had obviously lower cytotoxicity against 293 T and A549 cell lines compared with that of PEI 25 kD.
The cytotoxicity and in vitro transfection study indicated that PCFC-g-PEI copolymer prepared in this paper was a novel gene delivery system with lower cytotoxicity and considerable transfection efficiency compared with commercial PEI (25 kD).