Delivery of Therapeutic AGT shRNA by PEG-Bu for Hypertension Therapy

>Gene silencing by RNA interference (RNAi) is a promising approach for gene therapy. However, up to today, it is still a major challenge to find safe and efficient non-viral vectors. Previously, we reported PEI-Bu, a small molecular weight PEI derivative, as an efficient non-viral carrier. However, like many PEI-based polymers, PEI-Bu was too toxic. In order to reduce cytotoxicity while maintain or even enhance transfecion efficiency, we modified PEI-Bu with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) to obtain PEG-Bu, and used it to delivery a theraputic short hairpin RNA (shRNA) targeting angiotensinogen (AGT) to normal rat liver cells (BRL-3A), which was a key target for the treatment of hypertension. The structure of PEG-Bu was confirmed by proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H-NMR). Gel permeation chromatography (GPC) showed that the weight average molecular weight (Mw) of PEG-Bu was 5880 Da, with a polydispersity of 1.58. PEG-Bu could condense gene cargo into spherical and uniform nanoparticles with particle size (65–88 nm) and zeta potential (7.3–9.6 mV). Interestingly and importantly, PEG-Bu displayed lower cytotoxicity and enhanced tranfection efficiency than PEI-Bu after PEGylation in both normal cells BRL-3A and tumor cells HeLa. Moreover, PEG-Bu could efficiently delivery AGT shRNA to knockdown the AGT expression. To sum up, PEG-Bu would be a promising non-viral vector for delivering AGT shRNA to BRL-3A cells for hypertension therapy.

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