Despite remarkable progress in the development of both viral and nonviral gene delivery vectors for airway disease treatment, poor gene transfer efficiency to the airway epithelium is a major obstacle in clinical application. To take advantage of the unique features of viral and nonviral vectors, we have developed complexes of adenovirus vector and anionic liposomes (AL-Ad5) by the calcium-induced phase change method. In the current study, based on the fact that there are overexpressed folate receptors on the surface of airway epithelia, we further modified the AL-Ad5 complexes with folate (F-AL-Ad5) to improve the transduction ability of Ad5 in airway epithelia. The transduction efficiencies of the obtained F-AL-Ad5 and AL-Ad5 complexes were assessed in primary-cultured airway epithelia in vitro. Our results indicated that compared with naked adenovirus vector, both AL-Ad5 and F-AL-Ad5 could significantly enhance the gene transduction efficiency of adenovirus vector in primary-cultured airway epithelial cells. Moreover, the enhancement mediated by F-AL-Ad5 was more dramatic than that by AL-Ad5. These results suggested that F-AL-Ad5 may be a useful strategy to deliver therapeutic genes to the airway epithelia and is promising in clinical application.
Keywords: adenovirus vector; folate receptor; gene delivery; primary-cultured airway epithelia.