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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 Feb 15;1463(2):459-69.

Human serum albumin enhances DNA transfection by lipoplexes and confers resistance to inhibition by serum.

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Department of Microbiology, School of Dentistry, University of the Pacific, 2155 Webster Street, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA.


Cationic liposome-DNA complexes ('lipoplexes') are used as gene delivery vehicles and may overcome some of the limitations of viral vectors for gene therapy applications. The interaction of highly positively charged lipoplexes with biological macromolecules in blood and tissues is one of the drawbacks of this system. We examined whether coating cationic liposomes with human serum albumin (HSA) could generate complexes that maintained transfection activity. The association of HSA with liposomes composed of 1, 2-dioleoyl-3-(trimethylammonium) propane and dioleoylphosphatidylethanolamine, and subsequent complexation with the plasmid pCMVluc greatly increased luciferase expression in epithelial and lymphocytic cell lines above that obtained with plain lipoplexes. The percentage of cells transfected also increased by an order of magnitude. The zeta potential of the ternary complexes was lower than that of the lipoplexes. Transfection activity by HSA-lipoplexes was not inhibited by up to 30% serum. The combined use of HSA and a pH-sensitive peptide resulted in significant gene expression in human primary macrophages. HSA-lipoplexes mediated significantly higher gene expression than plain lipoplexes or naked DNA in the lungs and spleen of mice. Our results indicate that negatively charged HSA-lipoplexes can facilitate efficient transfection of cultured cells, and that they may overcome some of the problems associated with the use of highly positively charged complexes for gene delivery in vivo.

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