Redox-responsive catiomer based on PEG-ss-chitosan oligosaccharide-ss-polyethylenimine copolymer for effective gene delivery
The chitosan oligosaccharide-based disulfide-containing polyethylenimine derivative PEG-ss-COS-ss-PEI was synthesized and evaluated as a nonviral gene delivery carrier. The structure of the obtained polymers was confirmed by 1H NMR and FTIR. PEG-ss-COS-ss-PEI copolymers could effectively condense DNA into small particles with average diameters less than 120 nm and the zeta potential of +15.7 mV at the N/P ratio of 15/1. Additionally, the resultant polyplexes showed excellent colloidal stability against 150 mM NaCl and had a better buffering capacity of ∼44%, which was more than double the buffering capacity of PEI1.8k (∼20%). In the presence of 10 mM glutathione (GSH), however, polyplexes of PEG-ss-COS-ss-PEI were rapidly unpacked, as revealed by significant increase of particle sizes to over 800 nm. In vitro experiments revealed that the PEG-ss-COS-ss-PEI copolymers not only had much lower cytotoxicity, but also displayed high transfection efficiency as compared to the control branch 25 kDa PEI. This study indicates that a reducibly degradable copolymer PEG-ss-COS-ss-PEI composed of low molecular weight PEI, chitosan oligosaccharide and PEG via disulfide-containing linkages can be a promising gene delivery carrier.