Synthesis, biodistribution, and imaging of PEGylated-acetylated polyamidoamine dendrimers

J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2014 May;14(5):3305-12. doi: 10.1166/jnn.2014.7995.


Polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimers have been widely used as drug carriers, non-viral gene vectors and imaging agents. However, the use of dendrimers in biological system is constrained because of inherent toxicity and organ accumulation. In this study, the strategy of acetylation and PEGylation-acetylation was used to minimize PAMAM dendrimers toxicities and to improve their biodistribution and pharmacokinetics for medical application. PEGylated-acetylated PAMAM (G4-Ac-PEG) dendrimers were synthesized by PEGylation of acetylated PAMAM dendrimer of generation 4 (G4) with acetic anhydride and polyethylene glycol (PEG) 3.4 k. To investigate the cytotoxicity and in vivo biodistribution of the conjugates, in vitro cell viability analysis, Iodine-125 (125I) imaging, tissue distribution and hematoxylin-eosin (HE) staining were performed. We find that acetylation and PEGylation-acetylation essentially eliminates the inherent dendrimer cytotoxicity in vitro. Planar gamma (gamma) camera imaging revealed that all the conjugates were slowly eliminated from the body, and higher abdominal accumulation of acetylation PAMAM dendrimer was observed. Tissue distribution analysis showed that PEGylated-acetylated dendrimers have longer blood retention and lower accumulation in organs such as the kidney and liver than the non-PEGylated-acetylated dendrimers, but acetylation only can significantly increase the accumulation of G4 in the kidney and decrease the concentration in blood. Histology results reveal that no obvious damage was observed in all groups after high dose administration. This study indicates that PEGylation-acetylation could improve the blood retention, decrease organ accumulation, and improve pharmacokinetic profile, which suggests that PEGylation-acetylation provides an alternative method for PAMAM dendrimers modification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Dendrimers / administration & dosage
  • Dendrimers / chemical synthesis*
  • Dendrimers / pharmacokinetics*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Dendrimers
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • PAMAM Starburst
  • Polyethylene Glycols