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Biomaterials. 2011 Dec;32(35):9483-93. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.08.062. Epub 2011 Sep 1.

Nanoparticle-mediated gene transfer specific to retinal pigment epithelial cells.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA.


Previously, we demonstrated that CK30PEG10k-compacted DNA nanoparticles (NPs) efficiently target photoreceptor cells and improve visual function in a retinitis pigmentosa model. Here, we test the ability of these NPs in driving transgene expression in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), using an RPE-specific reporter vector (VMD2-eGFP). NPs, uncompacted plasmid, or saline were subretinally delivered to adult BALB/c mice. NP-based expression was specific to RPE cells and caused no deleterious effects on retinal structure and function. eGFP expression levels in NP-injected eyes peaked at post-injection day 2 (PI-2), stabilized at levels ~3-fold higher than in naked DNA-injected eyes, and remained elevated at the latest time-point examined (PI-30). Unlike naked DNA, which only transfected cells at the site of injection, NPs were able to transfect cells throughout the RPE. Subretinal injections of rhodamine labeled NPs and naked DNA showed comparable initial uptake into RPE cells. However, at PI-7 and -30 days significantly more fluorescence was detected inside the RPE of NP-injected eyes compared to naked DNA, suggesting NPs are stable inside the cell which could possibly lead to higher and sustained expression. Overall, our results demonstrate that NPs can efficiently deliver genes to the RPE and hold great potential for the treatment of RPE-associated diseases.

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