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J Control Release. 2007 Mar 12;118(1):126-35. Epub 2006 Dec 16.

Synergistic effect of ultrasound and PEI on DNA transfection in vitro.

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School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0100, USA.


Ultrasound and poly(ethylenimine) (PEI) have each separately been shown to increase DNA transfection efficiency. This study tested the hypothesis that the combination of ultrasound and PEI can have a synergistic effect to increase DNA transfection. This in vitro study assessed transfection efficiency of two different DNA plasmids encoding green fluorescent protein and firefly luciferase in two different cell types, a primary culture of human aortic smooth muscle cells and an immortal line of human prostate cancer cells. We found that ultrasound sonication increased transfection up to 18-fold, DNA complexation with PEI increased transfection up to 90-fold, and the combination of ultrasound and PEI synergistically increased transfection up to 200-fold, which resulted in reporter gene expression by 34% of cells. Kinetic measurements found that the effects of ultrasound alone acted quickly, whereas increased transfection by PEI either alone or in combination with ultrasound strongly benefited from a 4-h incubation with the DNA plasmid after sonication. Although serum reduced absolute expression levels, it did not affect the relative increase in transfection when ultrasound was added to PEI enhancement. Flow cytometry measurements showed that sonication increased intracellular uptake of labeled DNA complexed to PEI by 55% relative to PEI complexation alone. Electrophoresis assay showed no damage to DNA or PEI-DNA complexes after sonication. Overall, these results suggest that the combination of ultrasound and PEI can have a synergistic effect to increase DNA transfection.

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