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Comparison of VEGF gene silencing efficiencies of chitosan and protamine complexes containing shRNA



VEGF is an angiogenic factor promoting the proliferation and migration of endothelial cells. Inhibition of VEGF by RNAi mechanism is one of the novel and the most important strategies in antiangiogenesis therapy. In this study, the tumor silencing efficiency of ternary complexes after addition of protamine to chitosan complexes containing VEGF targeting shRNA was investigated. Besides chitosan, protamine is an effective gene delivery material. Binary and ternary complexes consisting of chitosan, protamine, and shRNA were prepared to target VEGF, their morphology, size, and zeta potential of the complexes being measured. The average size of the complexes was between 173 and 284 nm and zeta potential was between +10 and 16 mV. In the ternary complexes, size decreased as the chitosan ratio increased; however, its molecular weight had no effect on the size of complexes. HeLa, HEK293, and MCF-7 cell lines were used for in vitro transfection. VEGF was assayed by ELISA. A higher silencing effect was obtained using ternary complexes. Transgene expression was increased by adding protamine to chitosan complexes. Gene inhibition values in cell lines followed the rank HEK293>HeLa>MCF-7. The addition of protamine to the chitosan/shRNA (VEGF) complexes increased the knockdown of VEGF genes in the cell lines, and no cytotoxicity was found after the complexes had been incorporated into the cells.