Gene delivery nanocarriers of bioactive glass with unique potential to load BMP2 plasmid DNA and to internalize into mesenchymal stem cells for osteogenesis and bone regeneration†
The recent development of bioactive glasses with nanoscale morphologies has spurred their specific applications in bone regeneration, for example as drug and gene delivery carriers. Bone engineering with stem cells genetically modified with this unique class of nanocarriers thus holds great promise in this avenue. Here we report the potential of the bioactive glass nanoparticle (BGN) system for the gene delivery of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) targeting bone. The composition of 15% Ca-added silica, proven to be bone-bioactive, was formulated into surface aminated mesoporous nanospheres with enlarged pore sizes, to effectively load and deliver bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP2) plasmid DNA. The enlarged mesopores were highly effective in loading BMP2-pDNA with an efficiency as high as 3.5 wt% (pDNA w.r.t. BGN), a level more than twice than for small-sized mesopores. The BGN nanocarriers released the genetic molecules in a highly sustained manner (for as long as 2 weeks). The BMP2-pDNA/BGN complexes were effectively internalized to rat MSCs with a cell uptake level of ∼73%, and the majority of cells were transfected to express the BMP2 protein. Subsequent osteogenesis of the transfected MSCs was demonstrated by the expression of bone-related genes, including bone sialoprotein, osteopontin, and osteocalcin. The MSCs transfected with BMP2-pDNA/BGN were locally delivered inside a collagen gel to the target calvarium defects. The results showed significantly improved bone regeneration, as evidenced by the micro-computed tomographic, histomorphometric and immunohistochemical analyses. This study supports the excellent capacity of the BGN system as a pDNA-delivery nanocarrier in MSCs, and the engineered system, BMP2-pDNA/BGN with MSCs, may be considered a new promising candidate to advance the therapeutic potential of stem cells through genetic modification, targeting bone defects and diseases.