Bioresponsive Polyplexes and Micelleplexes
The delivery of nucleic acids (NAs) is hindered by several factors, such as the size of the biomolecule (micron size for plasmid DNA), the presence of different biological barriers or the degradation of NAs. Most of these limitations are avoided by complexation with polycationic species, which collapse NAs into nanometer-sized polyplexes that can be efficiently internalized into the target cells. Because there are subtle changes in physiological conditions, such as the drop in pH at the endosome, or the increase in temperature in tumor tissue, stimuli responsive synthetic polymers are ideal candidates for the synthesis of efficient gene delivery vehicles. In this chapter, representative examples of “smart” polypexes that exploit these changes in physiological environment for the delivery of NAs are described, and the transfection efficiency of pH-, redox-, temperature- and light-responsive polyplexes is analyzed.