Polyethylenimine (PEI) has been shown to be an efficient nonviral delivery vector. To improve its specificity and reduce its cytotoxicity, PEI should be modified. Transferrin (Tf) is a cell-binding ligand and Tf-receptors are expressed in malignant cells. Modification of cationic polymer
by polyethylene glycol (PEG) can reduce the protein interaction and cell cytotoxicity of delivery vectors. We have synthesized PEG-Tf-PEI conjugate as an efficient and safe carrier of plasmid DNA (pDNA). Nanocomplexes of conjugates with pDNA were characterized by measuring the particle size
and the surface charge. Transfection efficiency of nanocomplexes in Jurkat cells was improved and cytotoxicity was decreased compared with those of PEI complex. This was due to a reduction in the membrane damaging effect via shielding of the positive charge on the nanocomplex surface by PEG.
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