Non-covalent functionalization of single-walled carbon nanotubes with modified polyethyleneimines for efficient gene delivery

Behzad Behnam, Wayne T. Shier, Azadeh Hashem Nia, Khalil Abnous, Mohammad Ramezani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Functionalized carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been recently emerged as important class of vectors for delivery of DNA and other biomolecules into various cells. In this study, single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) were functionalized by non-covalent binding of hydrophobic moieties, which were covalently linked to polyethyleneimines (PEIs). PEIs of three molecular weights (25, 10 and 1.8 kDa) were used. CNTs were functionalized with the PEI series either through phospholipid moiety (via a polyethyleneglycol linker) or through directly-attached long (18 carbons) or intermediate (10 carbons) hydrophobic alkyl moieties. All PEI-functionalized CNTs exhibited good stability and dispersibility in biological media. Visualizing of functionalized CNTs and lack of aggregation were confirmed by atomic force microscopy. The PEI derivatives bound to CNTs retained the ability to fully condense plasmid DNA at low N/P ratios and substantial buffering capacity in the endosomal pH range. PEI-functionalized CNTs exhibited increased transfection efficiency compared to underivatized PEIs up to 19-fold increase being observed in the functionalized CNT with the smallest PEI tested, the smallest hydrophobic attachment moiety tested and no linker. Also PEI-functionalized CNTs were effective gene delivery vectors in vivo following tail vein injection in mice with the largest expression occurring with the vector PEI-functionalized through a polyethyleneglycol linker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-215
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of pharmaceutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran . Financial support from Iran Nanotechnology Initiative is acknowledged. We would like to gratefully acknowledge Dr. Sara Amel Farzad at Avicenna Research Center for assistance with laboratory experiments and Ms. Zohre Rezvani, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, for technical support on obtaining FTIR data. This work was included in part in the postgraduate thesis of Behzad Behnam.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Gene delivery
  • In vivo
  • Non-viral vector
  • Polyethyleneimine
  • Single-walled carbon nanotubes


Dive into the research topics of 'Non-covalent functionalization of single-walled carbon nanotubes with modified polyethyleneimines for efficient gene delivery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this