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Gene Ther. 2002 Apr;9(7):463-71.

Gene delivery to the lung using protein/polyethylenimine/plasmid complexes.

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Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.


Delivery of genes to the lung has enormous potential in a wide variety of illnesses, from lung cancer to genetic deficiency diseases. Many delivery systems have been utilized, each with its own advantages and limitations. Polyethylenimine is a polycation capable of binding and compacting DNA, enabling intravascular plasmid delivery to normal tissues in such a way that the plasmid can be expressed in a proportion of the exposed cells. We have developed a novel intravenous method to deliver small amounts of plasmid to lung tissue, using nontoxic quantities of polyethylenimine in combination with albumin (or other soluble proteins). Injection of 1 microg or less of plasmid resulted in highly efficient gene expression in lung interstitial and endothelial tissues (0.5 to 1 ng luciferase per microg plasmid DNA), while larger quantities of plasmid reduced relative gene expression. Using luciferase as a reporter gene, single injections had maximal gene expression between 24 and 48 h, with a rapid decline thereafter. In contrast to some other delivery systems, however, no inhibition of gene expression occurred during multiple rounds of plasmid administration through 20 days. As a result, this method may have useful applications in diseases that could benefit from recurrent therapeutic gene delivery.

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