Cholic acid modified 2 kDa polyethylenimine as efficient transfection agent



New lipopolymers were synthesized by conjugating cholic acid (ChA) to polyethylenimines (PEI; 2 and 25 kDa) and a polyallylamine (PAA; 15 kDa) via N-acylation to develop effective gene delivery systems. The extent of ChA substitution linearly varied with the feed ratio during synthesis, indicating good control over grafting ratio. While ChA did not affect binding to plasmid DNA (pDNA) for higher molecular weight (MW) polymers, ChA substitution to 2 kDa PEI significantly affected the pDNA binding. Toxicity of the 2 kDa PEI was unaffected by ChA substitution, but it was improved for the higher MW polymers. Using immortal 293T cells and primary cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells, low MW (2 kDa) PEI was shown to display much better transfection efficiency as a result of ChA substitution, unlike the higher MW polymers. We conclude that ChA could be a suitable substituent for non-toxic (low MW) PEIs in order to improve their transfection efficiency. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:1337–1341, 2013