Self-assembled magnetic theranostic nanoparticles for highly sensitive MRI of minicircle DNA delivery†
As a versatile gene vector, minicircle DNA (mcDNA) has a great potential for gene therapy. However, some serious challenges remain, such as to effectively deliver mcDNA into targeted cells/tissues and to non-invasively monitor the delivery of the mcDNA. Superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) nanoparticles have been extensively used for both drug/gene delivery and diagnosis. In this study, an MRI visible gene delivery system was developed with a core of SPIO nanocrystals and a shell of biodegradable stearic acid-modified low molecular weight polyethyleneimine (Stearic–LWPEI) via self-assembly. The Stearic–LWPEI–SPIO nanoparticles possess a controlled clustering structure, narrow size distribution and ultrasensitive imaging capacity. Furthermore, the nanoparticle can effectively bind with mcDNA and protect it from enzymatic degradation. In conclusion, the nanoparticle shows synergistic advantages in the effective transfection of mcDNA and non-invasive MRI of gene delivery.