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Optimization of a Biomimetic Apatite Nanoparticle Delivery System for Non-viral Gene Transfection - a Simulated Body Fluid Approach

  • Author(s): Das, Debobrato
  • Advisor(s): Wu, Benjamin M
  • et al.
Abstract

Current methods for gene delivery utilize nanocarriers such as liposomes and viral vectors that may produce in vivo toxicity, immunogenicity, or mutagenesis. Moreover, these common high-cost systems have a low efficacy of gene-vehicle transport across the cell plasma membrane followed by inadequate release and weak intracellular stability of the genetic sequence. Thus, this study aims to maximize gene transfection while minimizing cytotoxicity by utilizing supersaturated blood-plasma ions derived from simulated body fluids (SBF).

With favorable electrostatic interactions to create biocompatible calcium-phosphate nanoparticles (NPs) derived from biomimetic apatite (BA), results suggest that the SBF system, though naturally sensitive to reaction conditions, after optimization can serve as a tunable and versatile platform for the delivery of various types of nucleic acids. From a systematic exploration of the effects of nucleation pH, incubation temperature, and time on transfection efficiency, the study proposes distinct characteristic trends in SBF BA-NP morphology, cellular uptake, cell viability, and gene modulation. Specifically, with aggressive nucleation and growth of BA-NPs in solution (observed via scanning electron microscopy), the ensuing microenvironment imposes a more toxic cellular interaction (indicated by alamarBlue and BCA assays), limiting particle uptake (fluorescence experiments) and subsequent gene knockdown (quantitative loss of function assays). Controlled precipitation of BA-NPs function to increase particle accessibility by surrounding cells, and subsequently enhance uptake and transfection efficiency. By closely examining such trends, an optimal fabrication condition of pH 6.5-37C can be observed where particle growth is more tamed and less chaotic, providing improved, favorable cellular interactions that increase cell uptake and consequently maximize gene transfection, without compromising cellular viability.

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