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Open AccessArticle

Low Molecular Weight pDMAEMA-block-pHEMA Block-Copolymers Synthesized via RAFT-Polymerization: Potential Non-Viral Gene Delivery Agents?

1
Department of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmacy, Philipps-Universität, Ketzerbach 63, D-35032 Marburg, Germany
2
Department of Physics, Philipps-Universität, Renthof 7, D-35032 Marburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Both authors contributed equally.
Polymers 2011, 3(2), 693-718; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym3020693
Received: 22 February 2011 / Accepted: 25 March 2011 / Published: 28 March 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofunctional Polymers for Medical Applications)
The aim of this study was to investigate non-viral pDNA carriers based on diblock-copolymers consisting of poly(2-(dimethyl amino)ethyl methacrylate) (pDMAEMA) and poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (pHEMA). Specifically the block-lengths and molecular weights were varied to determine the minimal requirements for transfection. Such vectors should allow better transfection at acceptable toxicity levels and the entire diblock-copolymer should be suitable for renal clearance. For this purpose, a library of linear poly(2-(dimethyl amino)ethyl methacrylate-block-poly(2-hydroxyl methacrylate) (pDMAEMA-block-pHEMA) copolymers was synthesized via RAFT (reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer) polymerization in a molecular weight (Mw) range of 17–35.7 kDa and analyzed using 1H and 13C NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance), ATR (attenuated total reflectance), GPC (gel permeation chromatography) and DSC (differential scanning calorimetry). Copolymers possessing short pDMAEMA-polycation chains were 1.4–9.7 times less toxic in vitro than polyethylenimine (PEI) 25 kDa, and complexed DNA into polyplexes of 100–170 nm, favorable for cellular uptake. The DNA-binding affinity and polyplex stability against competing polyanions was comparable with PEI 25 kDa. The zeta-potential of polyplexes of pDMAEMA-grafted copolymers remained positive (+15–30 mV). In comparison with earlier reported low molecular weight homo pDMAEMA vectors, these diblock-copolymers showed enhanced transfection efficacy under in vitro conditions due to their lower cytotoxicity, efficient cellular uptake and DNA packaging. The homo pDMAEMA115 (18.3 kDa) self-assembled with DNA into small positively charged polyplexes, but was not able to transfect cells. The grafting of 6 and 57 repeating units of pHEMA (0.8 and 7.4 kDa) to pDMAEMA115 increased the transfection efficacy significantly, implying a crucial impact of pHEMA on vector-cell interactions. The intracellular trafficking, in vivo transfection efficacy and kinetics of low molecular weight pDMAEMA-block-pHEMA are subject of ongoing studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: low molecular pDMAEMA; linear pDMAEMA-block-pHEMA diblock copolymers; RAFT-polymerization; poly(2-(dimethyl amino) ethyl methacrylate); poly(2-hydroxyethylmethacrylate); physico-chemical characterization; in vitro pDNA transfection; cytotoxicity low molecular pDMAEMA; linear pDMAEMA-block-pHEMA diblock copolymers; RAFT-polymerization; poly(2-(dimethyl amino) ethyl methacrylate); poly(2-hydroxyethylmethacrylate); physico-chemical characterization; in vitro pDNA transfection; cytotoxicity
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Samsonova, O.; Pfeiffer, C.; Hellmund, M.; Merkel, O.M.; Kissel, T. Low Molecular Weight pDMAEMA-block-pHEMA Block-Copolymers Synthesized via RAFT-Polymerization: Potential Non-Viral Gene Delivery Agents? Polymers 2011, 3, 693-718.

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