A group of novel poly(amido amine) homo- and copolymers (PAAs) containing secondary and tertiary amine groups in their main chain and different structures in the bisacrylamide segments were synthesized and evaluated as non-viral gene delivery vectors. Among these, also the disulfide-containing cystaminebisacrylamide was employed as a (co)monomer, yielding PAAs with variable amounts of bioreducible disulfide linkages in the main chain. Michael addition the trifunctional 1-(2-aminoethyl) piperazine to equimolar amounts of the appropriate bis(acrylamide) yielded linear polymers as was elucidated by their 13C NMR spectra. The polymers possess buffering capacities between pH 5.1 and pH 7.4 higher than branched polyethylenimine (pEI) and are able to efficiently condense DNA into nanosized (< 150 nm) and positively charged complexes. Transfection experiments with COS-7 cells showed that polyplexes from PAAs with disulfide linkages give significant higher transfections than those from PAAs lacking the disulfide linkage, and XTT assays showed that these polymers are essentially non-toxic. Variation of the disulfide content revealed that polyplexes of PAA copolymers with appropriate disulfide content have largely improved biophysical properties, yielding enhanced levels of gene expression along with low toxicity. The results demonstrate that bioreducible poly(amido amine)s are a very promising class of polymers for safe and efficient gene delivery.
- Gene delivery
- Disulfide reduction
- Michael addition polymerization
- Poly(amido amine)