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Mol Pharm. 2011 Jun 6;8(3):774-87. doi: 10.1021/mp100390w. Epub 2011 Apr 1.

In vitro and in vivo mRNA delivery using lipid-enveloped pH-responsive polymer nanoparticles.

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  • 1Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Biodegradable core--shell structured nanoparticles with a poly(β-amino ester) (PBAE) core enveloped by a phospholipid bilayer shell were developed for in vivo mRNA delivery with a view toward delivery of mRNA-based vaccines. The pH-responsive PBAE component was chosen to promote endosome disruption, while the lipid surface layer was selected to minimize toxicity of the polycation core. Messenger RNA was efficiently adsorbed via electrostatic interactions onto the surface of these net positively charged nanoparticles. In vitro, mRNA-loaded particle uptake by dendritic cells led to mRNA delivery into the cytosol with low cytotoxicity, followed by translation of the encoded protein in these difficult-to-transfect cells at a frequency of ~30%. Particles loaded with mRNA administered intranasally (i.n.) in mice led to the expression of the reporter protein luciferase in vivo as soon as 6 h after administration, a time point when naked mRNA given i.n. showed no expression. At later time points, luciferase expression was detected in naked mRNA-treated mice, but this group showed a wide variation in levels of transfection, compared to particle-treated mice. This system may thus be promising for noninvasive delivery of mRNA-based vaccines.

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