Factors affecting blood clearance and in vivo distribution of polyelectrolyte complexes for gene delivery

P R Dash, M L Read, L B Barrett, M A Wolfert, L W Seymour

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    378 Citations (Scopus)


    Self-assembling polycation/DNA complexes represent a promising synthetic vector for gene delivery. However, despite considerable versatility and transfectional activity in vitro, such materials are quickly eliminated from the bloodstream following intravenous injection (plasma alpha half-life typically less than 5 min). For targeted systemic delivery a more prolonged plasma circulation of the vector is essential. Here we have examined factors contributing to rapid elimination of poly(L-lysine) (pLL)/DNA complexes from the bloodstream, and implicate the binding of proteins to the polyelectrolyte complexes as a likely cause for their blood clearance. pLL/DNA complexes reisolated from serum associate with several proteins, depending on their net charge, although the major band on SDS-PAGE co-migrates with albumin. Serum albumin binds to pLL/DNA complexes in vitro, forming a ternary pLL/DNA/albumin complex which regains some ethidium bromide fluorescence and fails to move during agarose electrophoresis. Albumin also causes increased turbidity of complexes, and reduces their zeta potential to the same level (-16 mV) as is measured in serum. We propose that rapid plasma elimination of polycation/DNA complexes results from their binding serum albumin and other proteins, perhaps due to aggregation and phagocytic capture or accumulation of the ternary complexes in fine capillary beds.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)643-50
    Number of pages8
    JournalGene Therapy
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 1999


    • Albumins
    • Animals
    • DNA
    • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel
    • Female
    • Genetic Therapy
    • Genetic Vectors
    • Metabolic Clearance Rate
    • Mice
    • Mice, Inbred BALB C
    • Polylysine
    • Protein Binding
    • Transfection
    • Treatment Failure


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