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Biomaterials. 2012 Nov;33(32):8142-51. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.07.036. Epub 2012 Aug 4.

Cystamine-terminated poly(beta-amino ester)s for siRNA delivery to human mesenchymal stem cells and enhancement of osteogenic differentiation.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Translational Tissue Engineering Center, and Institute for NanoBiotechnology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 400 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA.


Enhancing human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) differentiation via RNA interference (RNAi) could provide an effective way of controlling cell fate for tissue engineering, but a safe and effective delivery vehicle must first be developed. Here, we evaluated an array of synthetic end-modified poly(beta-amino ester) (PBAE)-based nanoparticles to optimize siRNA delivery into hMSCs. In general, cystamine-terminated polymers caused the most knockdown, with the best polymer achieving 91% knockdown 20 days post-transfection. Binding studies revealed that the cystamine-terminated polymer bound siRNA tightly at lower weight ratios of polymer to siRNA but then efficiently released siRNA upon exposure to a reducing environment, suggesting that this class of PBAEs can form tight initial interactions with its cargo and then cause efficient, environmentally-triggered release in the cytoplasm. Finally, we tested a functional application of this system by transfecting hMSCs with siRNA against an inhibitor of osteogenesis, B-cell lymphoma (Bcl)-like protein 2 (BCL2L2). This resulted in enhanced osteogenesis over 4 weeks as evidenced by Alizarin Red S staining and calcium quantification. The bioreducible PBAE/siRNA nanoparticles developed here can provide a means of safe and effective control of hMSC differentiation for a wide variety of applications.

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