Intravenous delivery of liposome-mediated nonviral DNA is less toxic than intraperitoneal delivery in mice

World J Surg. 2005 Mar;29(3):339-43. doi: 10.1007/s00268-004-7822-5.


Suicide gene therapy has been shown to be an effective means of destroying pancreatic cancer cells. Liposomes have been described as having better efficacy in gene delivery, and an advantage of using liposomes as gene carriers is that they can be used repeatedly in vivo. The objective of this study is to compare the effect of gene delivery routes and to determine whether systemic delivery of the rat insulin promoter (RIP)-directed suicide gene construct would permit cell-specific gene delivery in vivo. Severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice were injected with liposome-RIP-TK (thymidine kinase) complex by either the intraperitoneal or the intravenous route. Twenty-four hours post gene delivery, mice received ganciclovir (GCV) treatment twice daily for 14 days. Mice were sacrificed at various time points. Complete necropsy and serum chemistry analysis were performed. Islet morphology was determined using hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining. Serum glucose and insulin levels were also determined. To determine the toxic effect on pancreatic islet cells, immunostaining of insulin-producing and glucagon-producing cells was carried out at each time point. H&E staining indicated that both intravenous and intraperitoneal liposome-RIP-TK gene expression had no effect in normal endocrine islet cells. Both gene-delivery routes in mice resulted in normal glycemia and serum insulin levels. The endocrine islets were intact, with a normal distribution pattern of insulin-producing beta cells and glucagon-secreting alpha cells. However, serum chemistry analysis revealed significantly elevated levels of liver enzymes; suggesting that possible liver damage had occurred with the intraperitoneal gene delivery of liposome-pRIP-TK. Intravenous liposome-mediated gene delivery had no effect on liver enzyme levels. Liposome-mediated gene delivery via intravenous injection was less toxic than intraperitoneal delivery. This gene-delivery route requires fewer liposome-DNA complexes and maintains normal liver function. Thus, intravenous delivery of gene therapy would be superior to intraperitoneal administration of gene therapy in mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Islets of Langerhans / pathology*
  • Liposomes
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Thymidine Kinase / genetics*
  • Trans-Activators / administration & dosage*


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Liposomes
  • Trans-Activators
  • pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 protein
  • Thymidine Kinase