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Int J Nanomedicine. 2017 Jul 26;12:5331-5343. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S137245. eCollection 2017.

Folic acid-functionalized polyethylenimine superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles as theranostic agents for magnetic resonance imaging and PD-L1 siRNA delivery for gastric cancer.

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Department of Gastroenterology.
Department of Emergency Medicine, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital.
Department of Thoracic Surgery, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center.
Department of Radiology, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.


Programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1), which is highly expressed in gastric cancers, interacts with programmed death-1 (PD-1) on T cells and is involved in T-cell immune resistance. To increase the therapeutic safety and accuracy of PD-1/PD-L1 blockade, RNA interference through targeted gene delivery was performed in our study. We developed folic acid (FA)- and disulfide (SS)-polyethylene glycol (PEG)-conjugated polyethylenimine (PEI) complexed with superparamagnetic iron oxide Fe3O4 nanoparticles (SPIONs) as a siRNA-delivery system for PD-L1 knockdown. The characterization, binding ability, cytotoxicity, transfection efficiency, and cellular internalization of the polyplex were determined. At nitrogen:phosphate (N:P) ratios of 10 or above, the FA-PEG-SS-PEI-SPIONs bound to PD-L1 siRNA to form a polyplex with a diameter of approximately 120 nm. Cell-viability assays showed that the polyplex had minimal cytotoxicity at low N:P ratios. The FA-conjugated polyplex showed higher transfection efficiency and cellular internalization in the folate receptor-overexpressing gastric cancer cell line SGC-7901 than a non-FA-conjugated polyplex. Subsequently, we adopted the targeted FA-PEG-SS-PEI-SPION/siRNA polyplexes at an N:P ratio of 10 for function studies. Cellular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed that the polyplex could also act as a T2-weighted contrast agent for cancer MRI. Furthermore, one of four PD-L1 siRNAs exhibited effective PD-L1 knockdown in PD-L1-overexpressing SGC-7901. To determine the effects of the functionalized polyplex on T-cell function, we established a coculture model of activated T cells and SGC-7901 cells and demonstrated changes in secreted cytokines. Our findings highlight the potential of this class of multifunctional theranostic nanoparticles for effective targeted PD-L1-knockdown therapy and MRI diagnosis in gastric cancers.


PEI; RNA interference; cellular internalization; magnetic resonance imaging; theranostics

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