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Org Biomol Chem. 2011 Jun 21;9(12):4600-13. doi: 10.1039/c0ob00940g. Epub 2011 May 3.

Syntheses, transfection efficacy and cell toxicity properties of novel cholesterol-based gemini lipids having hydroxyethyl head group.

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Department of Organic Chemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, 560 012, India.


We have synthesized five new cholesterol based gemini cationic lipids possessing hydroxyethyl (-CH(2)CH(2)OH) function on each head group, which differ in the length of the polymethylene spacer chain. These gemini lipids are important for gene delivery processes as they possess pre-optimized molecular features, e.g., cholesterol backbone, ether linkage and a variable spacer chain between both the headgroups of the gemini lipids. Cationic liposomes were prepared from each of these lipids individually and as a mixture of individual cationic gemini lipid and 1,2-dioleoyl phosphatidylethanolamine (DOPE). Each gemini lipid based formulation induced better transfection activity than that of their monomeric counterpart. One such gemini lipid with a -(CH(2))(12)- spacer, HG-12, showed dramatic increase in the mean fluorescence intensity due to the expression of green-fluorescence protein (GFP) in the presence of 10% FBS compared to the conditions where there was no serum. Other gemini lipids retained their gene transfection efficiency without any marked decrease in the presence of serum. The only exception was seen with the gemini with a -(CH(2))(3)- spacer, HG-3, which on gene transfection in the presence of 10% FBS lost ~70% of its transfection efficiency. Overall the gemini lipid with a -(CH(2))(5)- spacer, HG-5, showed the highest transfection activity at N/P (lipid/DNA) ratio of 0.5 and lipid : DOPE molar ratio of 2. Upon comparison of the relevant parameters, e.g., %-transfected cells, the amount of DNA transfected to each cell and %-cell viability all together against Lipofectamine 2000, one of the best commercial transfecting agents, the optimized lipid formulation based on DOPE/HG-5 was found to be comparable. In terms of its ability to induce gene-transfer in the presence of serum and shelf-life DOPE/HG-5 liposome was found to be superior to its commercial counterpart. Confocal imaging analysis confirmed that in the presence of 10% serum using a Lipid : DOPE of 1 : 4 and N/P charge ratio of 0.75 with 1.2 μg DNA per well, HG-5 is better than Lipofectamine 2000.

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