• polyethylenimine;
  • polyamidoamine;
  • PEGylation;
  • gene delivery;
  • transfection


Low-molecular weight polyethylenimine (LMW PEI) shows the advantage of low-cytotoxicity, but has been inefficient in gene delivery as a consequence of the low-charge density. A number of previous studies employed the approach of crosslinking to solve this problem. In this study, a starburst LMW PEI gene vector has been developed. It has a polyamidoamine (PAMAM) core conjugated with a shell composed of LWM PEI and polyethylene glycol (PEG), that is PAMAM-PEI-PEG. Plasmid DNA (pEGFP-N1) and human cervix epithelial carcinoma (HeLa) cells were used in the study. The results showed that the starburst LMW PEI could effectively condense DNA at N/P above 5. The polyplexes had a size of about 500 nm and a nearly neutral surface because of the PEG shielding effect. This novel gene vector is able to maintain the low-cytotoxicity of LMW PEI, whereas its transfection efficiency was significantly improved. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A, 2012.