Megalin-targeted enhanced transfection efficiency in cultured human HK-2 renal tubular proximal cells using aminoglycoside-carboxyalkyl- polyethylenimine -containing nanoplexes

Fatemeh Oroojalian, Ali Hossein Rezayan, Wayne Thomas Shier, Khalil Abnous, Mohammad Ramezani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Non-viral vectors are of interest as therapeutic gene delivery agents in gene therapy, because they are simple to prepare, easy to modify and have definable safety profiles compared to viral vectors. The potential of gene therapy in the treatment of renal diseases is limited by a lack of effective kidney-targeted gene delivery systems. Aminoglycoside antibiotics gentamicin and neomycin were connected by amide linkages to carboxyl groups on carboxyalkylated-PEI25 (25 kDa PEI) or carboxyalkylated-PEI10 (10 kDa PEI). Aminoglycoside-carboxyalkylated-PEI conjugates were characterized with respect to size, surface charge density, DNA condensation ability, and buffering capacity. Polyplexes prepared by electrostatic interaction between aminoglycoside-carboxyalkylated-PEIs and enhanced green fluorescent protein-expressing (EGFP) plasmid DNA had appropriate nano-scale size (143–173 nm). Their targeting potential was investigated in cultured HK-2 immortalized human cortex/proximal tubule kidney epithelial cells, which expresses megalin, a scavenger receptor that mediates endocytosis of a diverse group of ligands, including aminoglycoside antibiotics. Aminoglycoside-carboxyalkylated-PEIs significantly increased EGFP gene transfection efficiency in HK-2 cells by ∼13-fold for aminoglycoside-carboxyalkylated-PEI25 and ∼7-fold increase for aminoglycoside-carboxyalkylated-PEI10 relative to the corresponding PEIs without aminoglycosides. The transfection efficiency of polyplexes was dependent on the weight ratio of aminoglycoside-containing ligand in the carrier. In the presence of a range of concentrations of human serum albumin, which competes for megalin binding, aminoglycoside-carboxyalkylated-PEI-mediated transfection was reduced to background levels. These results suggest that aminoglycoside-carboxyalkylated-PEI polyplexes can target megalin-expressing kidney-derived cells in vitro resulting in improved transfection efficiency with low cytotoxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-120
Number of pages19
JournalInternational journal of pharmaceutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 15 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Aminoglycosides
  • Gene Delivery
  • Megalin
  • Polyethylenimine
  • Renal Targeting


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